REVIEW: Mapei – Hey Hey

While one Swede, Tove Lo, is holding down the darker end of the pop scale, this year’s other semi-Swedish sensation Mapei felt equally inescapable thanks to the charming melodies of Don’t Wait and Change. Quite rightly, these two tracks kick off the former rapper’s full-length debut, and they certainly feel like the building blocks of a solid pop record.

Whereas most acts frontload their albums with their A-grade singles only to immediately peter out (cough, Banks, cough), there’s no immediate danger of that with Mapei on Hey Hey… at least not in the first half, anyway. Blame It On Me blends a tribal beat with what sounds like ice-cream-van panpipes, but even on top of that it’s the knack for melody resonates. Before long, album standout Things You Know Nothing About takes hold, and it’s so damn fresh and full of funk you’d actually contemplate felony to leak it to the world (not that we’d ever condone that, no no).

If Mapei goes wrong somewhere, it’s the tendency to play it too safe in the latter part of the album. Keep It Cool and Come On Baby feel a bit by-the-numbers, with both singer and producer (Magnus Lidehäll) reminding us what ‘filler’ is, and the songs on which she sticks to one register, like As 1 and Step Up, end up a bit monotonous. Meanwhile, Second To None makes us glad that rapping was forsaken for pop.

But while it’s certainly not the most memorable album of the year, it’s all very breezy and enjoyable and quite hard to be too down on. It does feel like very much like a debut, not to mention the sound an artist still sussing out the right people to work with, though a moment like What’s Innit 4 Me makes us feel like there’s an exciting future here. Just in the way the same phrase might stop you in the street, so too does Hey Hey feel like someone trying to grab our attention. The key to the next album, then, will be starting a musical conversation to sustain it.

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Mapei - Hey Hey
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