Feline, the debut album from Ella Eyre (a.k.a. British born 20 year old Ella McMahon) is, amongst many other things, aptly titled. It possesses a great deal of feline traits, from its cool, slightly removed classiness, to its devastatingly honed intelligence. It is pop meets soul by way of the epic soundtracks of the cinema, and displays the very great breadth of its young creator’s vision. Though at times it does run the risk of becoming repetitive, McMahon’s great strengths as a musician are plain to see.
Though most will know McMahon for If I Go that particular megahit represents her work at its most commercial, and is ultimately not a particularly good advertisement for the album’s truest pleasures. Indeed, the tracks that really stand out are those that take genuine risks: Good Times might feature your standard set of sunny pop lyrics, but musically, it mixes up the brash sounds of Spector-produced girl pop of the 60’s with elements of electro and glossy r’n’b to startling effect. Always impresses in a similar way: it sees the old meet the new in thrilling fashion, and its point of emotional catharsis is both elegantly constructed and yet stunningly simple.
Tracks like Deeper and All About You mashup the contemporary with the classic slightly less successfully – both stumble into the territory of the mundane, and lack any true emotional payoff – but it would be wrong to imply that even McMahon’s less polished work is bad, per se. Even when she misfires, she does so with class and elegance.
It may not be perfect then, but it is most certainly unlike much else out there. Rather than follow in a long line of parodic pop wannabes, McMahon has bravely stepped out in her own direction, powerfully striding to the strains of a song only she can hear. On that level, as on many others, she deserves a great deal of praise.