Jess Glynne has had a fairy tale career so far. After debuting as the guest vocalist on Clean Bandit’s smash hit Rather Be and topping charts internationally, she went on to snatch another six top ten hits in the UK, with four of them taking the top spot. Now that her debut album I Cry When I Laugh is here, it’s time to see whether she holds up on a long form release as well.
I Cry When I Laugh is a fairly predictable album for Glynne: it’s full of dance tracks both in the vein of her work with Clean Bandit with some soulful R&B tracks and mid-tempo ballads thrown in. Mixed with Glynne’s soulful vocals it makes for an interesting listen, though the album does suffer due to its length and static sound even as it swaps between genres, meaning songs like Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself get lost in the mix.
While this is a bad thing, it also allows the stronger cuts to truly stand out: the masterful use of piano and glockenspiel melodies in No Rights No Wrongs makes it one of the stronger dance songs, and the use of double bass as the back bone of Home gives it a distinct sound that doesn’t quite fit in either the dance or soul categories, making it the most memorable song. It Ain’t Right is the strongest track on show though, with the slower house style and retro synths mixed with trumpets and piano mixing both the dance and soul sounds in a way that the album never manages to achieve on other tracks.
There’s a lot about I Cry When I Laugh that doesn’t leave an impression. A fair half of the album manages to get lost entirely, and songs like Saddest Vanilla and the overly gimmicky Bad Blood just aren’t enjoyable at all. The album’s real strengths are in the collaborations and aforementioned standout tracks, with the album’s attempts to emulate those styles being an obvious problem. Even so, I Cry When I Laugh is enjoyable in the moment; there’s no longevity to it as a package, but you’ll still have fun listening to it.