There’s no denying that Louisa Allen, a.k.a. Foxes, has a rigidly specific sound for her own work. Despite working with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Zedd and Giorgio Moroder both before and after the release of her debut album Glorious, what she offered listeners was her own sugary brand of synthpop, masterfully avoiding all outside influences to create an identifiable, if not generic body of work. All I Need mostly adheres to the same template, but this time falls flat in an entirely different way.
All I Need keeps true to Allen’s promise of a slightly less overproduced sound with more piano and strings, but honestly fits within the same pop category as her first album. Floaty pop tracks litter the album, and are quite constantly the highlights in its first half, with the bursting synths and melodies of Body Talk and the galloping percussion and sweeping strings of Better Love in particular setting the tone for the album. The first half of the album reaches a climax, though, when Amazing comes barrelling through, mixing all of the dramatic strings, piano and percussion into a euphoric celebration of love, adding layers upon itself until it explodes into its heartfelt hook—Do what you want / Take a hold of me / Cause my heart keeps saying / That you’re all I need—combining the album’s themes and sounds into one track.
As amazing as Amazing is, though, it’s unfortunately a tough act to follow. The remaining tracks begin to fall into recurring tropes, with the same floaty pop tracks appearing ad nauseam, and the ballads and serious alternative tracks never carrying the same sense of gravity. Even as the first six tracks capture your attention, the remaining ten blend into each other in a way that makes the album much more difficult to listen to. Allen herself is never the main breaking point of a song, but the real problem is the lack of a breaking point in any single song in the first place. It would almost be forgivable if there were a laughably bad or cringeworthy song thrown into the mix, but instead there’s nothing but mildly pleasant monotony.
The dip in quality across All I Need is considerably more upsetting than usual, given the strength of its earlier tracks. While the subtler approach to production makes it easier to swallow than Glorious, this release suffers from such a severe case of frontloading that it barely had any chance to work out. Its strongest moments are memorable enough to stick with you after listening to the entire package—Amazing in particular being a major earworm—but outside of those tracks, there’s nothing about All I Need that will excite you.