Betty Who is a 22-year old Australian born, New York-based pop songstress who’s been gradually introducing herself to the world with a fantastic EP here and an awesome EP there. Currently, she’s just finished a successful tour of the UK and she’s just released her UK debut, an EP she’s dubbed Worlds Apart. Since we’ve somehow neglected to cover her before, and we do have a great many Love-is-Pop-sters in the UK, we saw it only fit to review it.
Things get off to a red hot ’80’s throwback start within the first few seconds of opener “High Society,” which proves to be a throbbing, synthy-licious delight that immediately calls to mind Robyn’s hit “Dancing On My Own.” Or, imagine a cover of “Dancing On My Own” by La Roux as heard on their debut. Vocally, her sound here is quite like La Roux vocalist Elly Jackson. It’s like Elly with a bit of reverb. Nothing wrong with that. And it seems destined to be a major dancefloor anthem. But… it could use a bit more originality. It’s great, but we’ve been here before. We’re happy to be back for the repeat business, but will this still hold interest once the new Robyn and La Roux albums drop? That remains to be seen. If the internet buzz means anything, it will.
“There’s a pounding in my chest / it’s getting hard to breathe,” Betty sings as the ballad “Right Here” begins, her voice soft and airy and delicate. She sounds quite vulnerable and there’s something beautiful about that. This one has a very chilled out vibe to it, the persistent if rapid bass at a level considerably lower than the rest of the song, which employs flourishes of jittery guitar in the background. It’s all very hypnotic. And it would be a serious case of neglect on my part if I didn’t point out that she sounds an awful lot like Katy Perry does on her ballads. Imagine “Thinking of You” remixed with a thudding, echoed beat. Voila.
If ballads aren’t your thing, fear not, the following track, the unoriginally-titled “Heartbreak Dream,” is a high energy pop rocker. Imagine Natalie Imbruglia on steroids. It’s like “Wishing I Was There” with sonorous drums. To that end, it’s hard to decipher whether these are live drums or a drum machine but it sounds slightly more like the real deal. Then again, the press release indicates that she “creates all the beats with producer Peter Thomas” and I think they’d take credit for it if either of them drummed it up. Regardless, it’s one hell of a catchy, up-tempo tune and it’s nice to hear Betty’s voice working nicely outside of the club haze.
The EP concludes with “You’re In Love,” which is like a slower version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” In fact, if somebody played this for you and told you it was an early demo of Katy’s song you’d probably believe it. She sounds so much like Katy here and the way the chorus leaps out at you is very “Teenage Dream”-ish. It’s a wonderful song though. And I don’t believe she’s trying to imitate Katy. I think she just naturally sounds a lot like her. She also sounds a bit like Kerli, particularly the way she sounds on her recent (sort of) dance tracks. Overall though, it rings of Ladyhawke’s criminally under-rated Anxiety album.
All in all, this is the type of release that should please any pop fan. It’s got plenty of mainstream flair yet it also has the vibe of the sort of synth pop that seems to hang out underground these days. If one of these songs is put in heavy rotation on radio, there’s little doubt that it’ll be a major hit and make Betty famous outside of the blogosphere. Probably not as famous as Katy, but perhaps as famous as La Roux and Ladyhawke or Little Boots, all very cool artists that would make for an awesome pairing if she could stand opening for another artist.