We’ve got a lot of time for Zella Day. Sweet Ophelia was an absolute jam that socked us out of nowhere – among all the carbon-copy pop these days, there was something feisty and exciting about the way the LA popstar-in-the-making presented herself and that magnificent jam. Even though her debut album seems to have turned around rather quickly, we hold the hope that Kicker is filled with similar such promise.
So it’s rather disconcerting, then, to see her opening with something as derivative as Jerome. If the title recalls the Lykke Li song, it’s probably not a coincidence; that on top of the very evident ‘blue dress’ Lana hangover makes it very hard to enjoy what would ordinarily be a very good pop song.
It’s a frustrating – and unfortunately recurring – development. Day can claw it back immediately with the likes of High and East of Eden, which shows just how capable she is of commanding a massive pop chorus, and then lose us again on the forgettable Ace of Hearts and 1965. There are kernels of a special talent here, but they’re mired among reams of ‘been there’ deliveries and uninspiring lyrics (and a barmy thematic on The Outlaw Josey Wales).
It’s hard to be overly mad at her though, given that this is a debut and there’s something about the way Zella Day can make even a country acoustic ballad like Jameson sound so endearing. Rounding off with a trio of stellar singles (including that still-brilliant Ophelia), there’s still plenty to enjoy here even if it’s marred by a few large speed bumps. Sadly, this inconsistency remains the one big kicker in an otherwise solid first record.
Kicker by Zella Day can be ordered here.