- 24 Apr 20
A sophisticated, subversive debut for fledgling pop star.
Lennon Stella has been around the block a few times. The product of viral fame at a young age, and then a child actor on an American country music soap, Stella has been singing practically since she could form words. She was always tipped to go the singer-songwriter route, growing up with two musical parents who are musicians themselves, and raised their children on a healthy diet of Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, and The Swell Season.
This information makes Stella's debut album Three. Two. One., a bit of a cheeky "fuck you" to expectation. Its production is firmly rooted in Pop music, weaving between sparse percussion and lush vocal arrangements, constantly dripping with electronic influence (and a surprise sample of Donna Lewis' 'I Love You Always Forever'). Opener 'Much Too Much' sets the record up with an irresistible and obviously poppy hook. Stella is defiantly refusing to follow in the footsteps the public have mapped out for her, but has somehow managed to maintain the spirit of a songwriter. It's a deeply personal album and Stella is not to be patronised.
She is a real 'singer', the kind that breathes proper life into songs. I’ve often said that songs need particular singers for them to hit home. Think about your favourite cover, and how you like it better than the original. This album proves Stella can take occasionally mundane lyrics and turn them into something interesting and rich. This album's highlights are consistently in Stella's vocal stylings – like on the arresting final line of 'Older Than I Am', the only moment on Three. Two. One. where her typically breathy voice really belts it out. That's not something you can teach, nor something you can undermine in production.
Three. Two. One., is a debut album that chronicles the trials and tribulations of adolescence without pandering to her audience, who are largely her age or younger. Songs like 'Fear of Being Alone' (another track with a Pop hook for the ages) tell of breakups past, while 'Golf On TV' is about revelling in a healthy relationship. 'Weakness', a tear-jerker which features Stella's younger sister Maisy, is a callback to their days of performing together. Now that they're older, wiser, and Stella's solo career has blossomed, it holds special meaning if you've watched them over the years. Lennon Stella's all grown up.
- 8/10, out now.