OC950

FOR SOMETIME, Charlotte Mary O’Connor – aka Charlotte OC – has been the electro-soulstress on the cusp of brilliance. Her 2013 track ‘Colour My Heart’ remains one of the darkened pop classics that finally distanced her from the bratty pop career Sony had once dreamt she would have.

And in the four-years since, critics, fans and inquisitive bystanders have waited for her actual debut – her inaugural release, ‘For Kenny’ is an acoustic world away from the current alt. pop scene she currently resides in – to drop. Finally it’s over.

‘Careless People’ is exactly what every O’Connor fan would have wanted. Resonating throughout every inch are the battered tales of misguided love played out to a soundtrack befit only for Lana del Rey or Stevie Nicks. The vast experiences endured throughout her life, no doubt including break-ups, expiration and rejuvenation, are openly discussed with a view to enriching those that listen.

In typically O’Connor fashion, its opener ‘Black Out’ sets the tone. Engulfed in a sea of reverberating drums and distant pianos, it’s a number that could easily have been conjured up by Florence Welch. There’s a rooted verve that separates her from her contemporaries such as Rae Morris and Ren Harvieu and mystery that surrounds her. Her voice shatters and quakes. Each melody punched out, each track a massive wave of understated pop. These sentiments are carried out through ‘Darkest House’ – likely a tune that will punch much greater live when a sea of newly christened OC aficionados hum back a chorus line which deserves more depth than occasionally given – and ‘Medicine Man’.

‘Choice’ could easily be a follow-up to ‘Colour My Heart’. The raw piano that offers the space for O’Connor’s vocals to burst out, that constant desire to push the song on to new levels equates itself here to mesmerising strings and choirs. Yet, all this song does is fortify the fact this album is as close to solving the enigma of Charlotte OC as has ever been afforded.

Take ‘Where It Stays’. On the face of it, it’s another track that demonstrates the versatility of the Blackburn-born singer’s voice. Yet scratch under the moody guitar, the song becomes a funeral march of emotion. “It feels like a ghost walking on my grave…makes me feel like you’re living and I’m awake,” is hummed out by O’Connor to question the very existence and sight of human nature. ‘I Want Your Love’ – if London Grammar have any sense they will collaborate with O’Connor because the end result would not be far away from this shimmering piece of elegant electropop – another nod towards forlorn years chasing former lovers.

Naturally, there is more to OC than dejected romance. For someone who knows the formula of a decent pop track, surprises are still in abundance on ‘Careless People’. ‘Shell’ is a album shaker of disco brilliance. It’s as if Guy Chambers had provisionally designated it to Robbie, yet O’Connor was just better at it. And in fairness ‘Running Back To You’ is so cleverly built around the synths and beats, it reminds everyone that ‘Random Access Memories’ by Daft Punk did actually happen.

So from Lancashire to Los Angeles, the wait is over. And what a bustling start this is from our new favourite puzzling popstar.

Words by Clive K Hammond

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