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Straight No Chaser
Bowie-phile goes wantonly eclectic
Edwin McFee, 30 Oct 2009
Having lost his Library, but gained a new best pal (the award show wrecking, ruination of a certain teen idol’s dreams
Kanye West), Mr. Hudson’s second record sets him out as the pop star for 2010. Opening with the already massive ‘Supernova’, Straight No Chaser is an album heavily indebted to Hunky Dory-era Bowie, Blur when they made The Great Escape and his new NBF’s penchant for soul and hip hop. Clearly keen to reinvent himself, ‘White Lies’ begins like a 90s trance track but then morphs into a Dusty Springfield song; ‘Knew You Were Trouble’ is Ultravox jamming on a hair metal ballad; ‘There Will Be Tears’ invokes the ghost of the UK garage scene; and ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ uses a banjo so effectively that we no longer automatically think of the Rednex’s ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ whenever we hear the instrument.
Pretty much every song on Straight No Chaser is a future pop anthem of powerhouse proportions. The tracks have one eye on the past and the other looking to the future and unlike some so-called ‘urban’ releases, there’s little fat. In fact the only real low point is when Mr. West reappears towards the end for ‘Anyone But Him’, “treating” us to one of the laziest rhymes we’ve heard from a hip hop artist in an eon (“Once she goes black/ She ain’t never going back” apparently. Snore….). The Bowie references continue on final track ‘Time’ and it’s a suitably grand way to end a surprisingly great album. If Mr. Hudson can recreate these songs live, then the pop world is his for the taking.