Poor Victoria Hesketh. Our favourite Blackpool-born electropop merchant was unfairly lumbered with expectation of BBC Sound of 2009 proportions for her debut, Hands. While a solid introduction (via Remedy and Stuck on Repeat), it never quite mustered a chart position to justify the hype, and young Victoria left us to mourn her synths for four years.
But wahey, she’s back with her own rhythm of the night, Nocturnes, which from the outset sounds more the record Little Boots was designed to make… mainly because there’s not a New in Town in sight. Opener Motorway is a luscious road song (which we rightly and rather innocuously predicted was about the M62, hurrah), a Saint Etienne-influenced gem that really does set the after-dark sensibility.
The excellent Confusion and latest single Broken Record slot Hesketh in the halcyon-Madonna era she aspires to fill, which is never more apparent than on the 80s “every night I say a prayer” refrain of house-jam Every Night. It’s robust cut after robust cut, while never bowing to the happy-clappy disco-pop of her peers and honouring the mood of the album title. Previous release Shake carries a suitable dark-disco vibe to maintain this, while album closer Satellites is three minutes of exceptional euphoria – think Sweet Child O’ Mine gone synthpop.
We could perhaps do without Scissor Sister knock-off Beat Beat, but the influences of Simian Mobile Disco and Hercules & Love Affair producers are more than visible here. It’s taken Hesketh a second album to establish the perfect identity and direction, and the message is clear: it’s moody, pulsating, and the sort of music you’d lose yourself to in the sweaty dark of an abandoned steel mill. Move over, Madge: this is how the north does dance.