- 07 Aug 19
Neneh Cherry's daughter does a Buffalo stance of her own.
Second generation pop stars are usually anxious to play down their glittering lineage. But chatting to Hot Press last year Mabel McVey was proud to be acknowledged as the daughter of Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey. This reflected the confidence she has in her own burgeoning career – a level of self-belief that’s vindicated by a strident and often gripping debut.
You may have encountered Mabel previously – perhaps via calling card early single ‘Finders Keepers’. That record had its charms but was ultimately quite disposable. That cannot be said of High Exceptions, which is in places bleak and mysterious whilst also driven by the quiet fury of Mabel’s hard-hitting personality.
It’s a record stuffed with precision-tooled weepies. And, if not quite as intense as Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next, nor does it flinch from exploring the recesses of her broken heart. Mabel’s determination to be a pop star with a difference is signalled early on with ‘Bad Behaviour’, a cyberpunk dirge co-written with her producer half-brother Marlon McVey-Roudette. Even better is ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, a growling groover, wherein McVey collaborates with Sam Smith/Rihanna producer Camille Purcell and Westlife backroom figure Steve Mac.
Amid the high-kicks and hard truths, space is also found for more pensive moments: ‘Stckhlm Syndrome (Interlude)’ is a low-key ballad, on which Mabel ruminates on an upbringing split between Sweden and London, whilst ‘I Belong To Me’ is an affirmative grower, where she moves past recent romantic travails and faces the future with chin up. Carry on like this and it may well be that her gilded family history will become a footnote to an even bigger story.