IV Rox are an ultra-hot new British girl group consisting of four equally talented members: Raquel, Dolly, Natalie and Nadine. And I’m quite glad that they’ve finally released their absolutely fabulous debut EP, Imperfections. You see, the girls released their slick first single, the delightfully dark R&B “Case of the Ex,” way back in April of 2014 and I’ve been dying to hear more from them ever since. Recently, they dropped their amazing new single “Badder Than A Mother” featuring BBC Sound of 2015 nominee Stormzy and it was an absolute killer, perfectly ripe for the loudest clubs. On both of these songs, as with the rest of the EP, the girls deliver smooth and sultry vocals that split the difference between R&B and pop. Another thing the songs all have in common is that they’re blessed by the magic touch of UK super producer Davinche, who’s been churning out choice cuts by some of the UK’s biggest names for over a decade now. Hip-hop is his speciality and he’s lent his hand to Kano, Wiley and Tinchy Stryder, among others. Here, he proves that he’s more than capable of producing R&B and pop, giving these songs some of the most memorable beats to come slamming into Love is Pop HQ in ages. That said, you could certainly argue that many of the beats he’s dropped all over this EP are hip-hop beats; one could easily rap all over most of these tracks.
The EP opens with “Down 4 Me” featuring Ghetts, which calls to mind vintage All Saints circa “Black Coffee” and Mel B’s stellar solo album Hot. If you’re too young to remember those, fear not, “Down 4 Me” sounds just as modern as it does retro. This especially holds true with Ghett’s super fast, grime-style rap part. To that end, Ghetts didn’t just drop a brief random verse and feed it to the girls. On the contrary, what he delivers is a considerably longer rap that suits the lyrics of the rest of the song just fine, something that can also be said of Stormzy’s contribution to “Badder Than A Mother.” And the girls truly hold their own on these songs, delivering fierce vocals that kick some serious ass. Clearly, they’ve been schooled on GIRL POWER.
“Under The Bridge” is track two and it makes it loud and clear that these girls do not need big name rap stars to bring home the goods. “It’s just like water / Under the bridge / Keep running down,” they sing, harmonizing brilliantly, which they do throughout the EP — one of the reasons it’s so perfect in spite of its title. It’s not all harmonizing, however, each of the girls getting the spotlight at least once during each of the EP’s seven tracks. (Or at least it sounds that way to me.)
Next is “Grenade,” which sounds like R&B from another planet with its futuristic-sounding beats and electro-flourishes. “30 seconds to explain / Before I explode / Grenade,” they sing during the song about what could’ve been perfect love if only the guy hadn’t betrayed them. “I’m tired of hearing your shitty excuses / Boy shut your face and just go,” the sing with venom on their tongues. Clearly, these girls mean serious business. This one calls to mind FKA twigs and Dawn Richard’s solo albums with its forward-thinking sounds.
“Imperfections” opens with insanely fast synth playing — or something that sounds an awful lot like it — before a bouncy beat kicks in. “I’m a real girl / So I need a real man / Real men love all our imperfections,” they sing on the stuttering chorus, which makes them sound a bit like robots. It’s a catchy effect though. Later, one of the verses goes, “If you want a model / Go look in the magazine / If you want the truth / I’ll give you reality.” Obviously, they waste no time getting their point across in their witty lyrics. The song ends with the girls singing the chorus of TLC’s “No Scrubs” acapella.
The next two tracks are “Case of the Ex” and “Badder Than A Mother,” which I’ve written about above, and have already given positive reviews here on Love is Pop, so I’m going to skip to the EP’s closing track now. It’s called “Better Than Your Girl” and it’s marvelous with its mix of punchy little programmed beats and louder live drums (or at least they sound that way). It also sports piano-like keyboards, synth and other assorted sounds, the track being layered beautifully with so many sounds that you can listen to it several times and discover something new each time. Like “Grenade,” it sounds rather futuristic and it’s what one imagines prog pop would sound like; if Rush made a pop song, it would probably be an awful lot like this. And the girls’ voices are syrupy sweet and sure to please. As always.