So here’s a sample lyric from Jess Glynne‘s debut, I Cry When I Laugh. It’s from a song called Saddest Vanilla (no joke) featuring Emeli Sandé (seriously, not winding you up here). It’s a ballad that goes: “This is the saddest vanilla that I’ve ever tasted/ The saddest vanilla and I don’t wanna waste it/ Sat at an ice cream parlour, you went and broke my heart, yeah/ Now I’m the saddest vanilla.”
Well, Jess, we’re crying with laughter alright, not least because this song feels less like luxury gelato and more Pizza Hut ice cream factory. Which is a shame, as it’s quite a destructive blip on a debut album that actually starts off on a very promising note. The dark, atmospheric R&B of Strawberry Fields is a welcome little curveball for a pop singer who, as endearing as she is, has a pretty solid house-inflected piano-pop template of which you can largely predict the beats.
Where she sits, then, seems to be in a similar place as Years & Years or Tori Kelly. The singles are great, but ride a sound that’s very much traceable and of-the-moment. What she does have in her favour is relentless optimism, that Hold My Hand kind of sunshine outlook that keeps her afloat on You Can Find Me and Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself. It’s a rose-tint that makes it hard to dislike some of the over-production drowning in a near Goulding-like tremble, where perhaps we would have preferred some more of the variety displayed in that opening track.
And much like that sad vanilla ice cream, Glynne is ultimately betrayed by indulgence. The last third of this 14-track record (a whopping 20 on the deluxe) sees less memorable songs like Why Me and Love Me alongside that ridiculous duet. Still, it will undoubtedly sell by the bucketload which is no bad thing – as far as pop stars go, Jess Glynne has all the ingredients we’d quite like to see in success. We’d just like her to go easy on the 99 Flake next time.
I Cry When I Laugh by Jess Glynne can be ordered here.