This working girl is in a bit of a rut – commercially at least. Many would consider Little Boots to be one of the least successful of the BBC’s Sound Of winners: her debut album Hands certainly under-performed and its follow-up Nocturnes (released four years later on her own label) failed to improve her commercial reputation. Weirdly, it was a more polished and cohesive album that deserved to fair better.
If the dichotomy between commercial and critical success has defined Victoria Hesketh’s career to date, then the tension between pop and dance has defined her musical style. Hands was a frothy electro-pop record and Nocturnes found a strong balance. Working Girl strives for that balance, but veers perhaps too heavily into dance territory.
In a nod to her pop past, an amusingly repeated voicemail message appears intermittently and uses her biggest hit Remedy as a ringtone. And many of the tracks here sit on the alternative electro-pop end of the spectrum: the strutting Get Things Done; the bubbling, sexy Taste It; or the synthy head rush of Real Girl. Swirling ballad Help later slows the pace, before the computerised whirring of Business Pleasure seems to sum up the ups and downs of her career in one oxymoronic title.
Yet the whole album is underpinned by dance beats – 90s dance beats specifically. That’s established immediately by the title track, its four to the floor rhythms and deep bass lines. Heroine is pure trance, The Game is heavily house influenced, and the whole album is pervaded by an affinity with late night revelries and euphoric dancing.
So is this a pop album? Or a dance album? Does it even matter? Hesketh has found her niche and she’s excellent at what she does. The issue is that of audience: mainstream pop fans have long lost interest in her music, leaving her to chase club goers who are probably busy following DJs instead. It’s a pity as Hesketh has huge potential that she may never reach. This working girl really does deserve to stay in business.
Working Girl by Little Boots can be ordered here.