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What the world knows
Ed’s cousin delivers the goth pop goods on second record
Ed Power, 18 May 2012
Having UK strummer Ed for a first cousin has brought Laura Sheeran a degree of attention, but anyone who comes to her second record expecting simpering singalongs is likely be disappointed, possibly even a little frightened. In the tradition of pop eccentrics such as Bat For Lashes and Polly Scattergood – a lineage that, as hardly needs pointing out, stretches back to Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux – her What The World Knows is deep, dark and mysterious, but delivered with a knowing wink.
What prevents it from being a workaday trawl through the usual crazy fem-pop clichés is Sheeran’s ear for a glittering hook. Opening with the title track, the LP begins in a howl of distortion but this gives way to treated beats and chiming melodies. ‘Redlight’ is Tori Amos trapped in a Nine Inch Nails dirge; ‘Forever Love’ sounds like a bargain-bin Goldfrapp. Most moving of all is ‘Death of a Star’, a Florence-esque paean to the mother she lost to cancer last year. In concert, the 26-year-old’s reputation for eye-popping eccentricity precedes her – famously she had a pole dancer accompany her at Whelan’s last year. On record, though, she plays it more straight than you might imagine, her frosty vocals restrained, her avant garde compulsions serving the music rather than the other way around.
What The World Knows is kooky and dissonant and awash with quirky indulgences – but it’s also a cracking art-pop record.