Katy B – On A Mission

September 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Katy B | 2 Comments
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  1. Power On Me
  2. Katy On A Mission
  3. Why You Always Here
  4. Witches’ Brew
  5. Movement
  6. Go Away
  7. Disappear
  8. Broken Record
  9. Lights On (feat. Ms. Dynamite)
  10. Easy Please Me
  11. Perfect Stranger (feat. Magnetic Man)
  12. Hard To Get
  13. Water
  14. Something New

Kathleen Brien, who is known as Katy B, made a huge splash earlier this year in the UK when she released her debut album, On A Mission. She is a graduate of the BRIT school, the same school Adele, Jessie J, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis attended but unlike her peers she excels at a different genre of music. Katy is a dubstep, R&B, house, UK funky and garage singer. Don’t let the genres fool you into thinking that Katy isn’t as vocally talented as her fellow alumni because she’s just as amazing. She’s not one to rely on powerful singing or belting; instead, she uses soft, cool and soulful tones that are as impressive. She’s been lending her voice to underground tunes as Baby Katy and on her debut she brings that underground sound and makes it commercial, still keeping that indie flavour.

In Power On Me, Katy slips into a garage groove with a cool, soulful voice and I knew that I was in store for something great, “can’t hide my frustration nor my depictions/tell me, how do I get to you?” It’s a breath of fresh air compared to the electropop that is dominating the mainstream market and her voice is devoid of any artificial enhancements. The track has a slick, laid-back production that compliments Katy’s voice and she enchants the chorus with heavenly “oohs” while she coos, “does it make you feel good/knowing that you could have power on me?” The funk is toned down in the middle eight and Katy shows off her strong, beautiful voice. This is a superb mix of excellent vocals and wicked production. The song that started it all for Katy, Katy On A Mission, is a raving dubstep club anthem. Opening with a pounding drum beat, it quickly moves into a buzzing synth beat and Katy is right at home on this track, “now I reached my element you better move over.” The drum and bass chorus throws you right onto a club dance floor. Katy easily captures the underground feel of a club and the way she carries the last note in each line is infectious, “when we erupt into the room/and hear the sub go boom/a feeling easy to resume/this right here I swear will end too soon.” There’s a break after each chorus where her vocals fade out and the heavy dubstep beat shines. This is a sick club banger and it will definitely get you moving.

Why You Always Here, a funky house tune, is one of my favourites. What begins as a minimal synth line expands into groovy percussion beats and synths with a small Latin flavour. “I’ve seen your game before so try it on her/I’m bored of you” Katy announces before heading into the soft but funky chorus and despite having a relaxed sound it’s one of the catchiest hooks, “why you always here/complaining in my ear/saying I could give you so much more?/why do you persist/to possess my kiss/when she’s the one your heart beats for?” The bridge has Katy questioning the two-timer and she offers some clever lyrics, “I bet you thought that you could/have best of both worlds/but you can give it all to her.”  The music settles down and everything becomes euphoric as Katy’s luscious vocalizing takes over. She closes the track by hauntingly repeating a few lines from the chorus and she throws in some ad-libs. The gem of the album is Witches’ Brew and this is the song that got me hooked on Katy. Psychedelic synths come rushing in with Katy’s enchanting vocalizing. She goes for a seductive singing style and it works wonders with the song’s overall theme of casting a spell, “I’ll open this book and blow the dust/from these pages of desire and lust/I’ll search for a spell perfect for you/‘cause I need to get you enchanted with me too.” I love how she purrs the last word in every line and it makes the song even more infectious. I like to think of this song as Katy not only enchanting a potential lover but the listener as well. “Come see what I got for you/all the others got me misunderstood/come with me, I’ll make you feel so good” she commands in the club-stomping chorus where she chants in a deep and sexy tone. There’s a grimey feel that becomes more apparent when the music breaks down in the bridge with Katy’s captivating, creepy vocals. This is the most commercial hit on the album but it doesn’t sacrifice its unique electropop flair.

The album continues on its dance high with Movement. While not a hardcore dance tune, the beat is beyond infectious and Katy owns it with her vocals. The pre-chorus acts as a chill-out moment, “silence is the sound of now/when I much prefer the/bold and loud,” before jumping into its intoxicating chorus. The repetitiveness works in its favour and the hook gets drilled into you each time she repeats it, “give me movement, give me movement/I need some kind of improvement.” It’s a short track that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It gets straight to the point and gets you moving before it heads into the next track which slows the album down. Go Away may be the first down-tempo but it is still dubstep and a favourite of mine. Katy gets emotional and performs with a delicate tone. Her voice is complimented by a delicious electro beat that sets the mood for this raw yet sassy number. In the chorus, she lets her vocals soar as she, for the first time, employs a magnificent high register as she dips into R&B. “If you could please just go away/leave me alone/yeah, fly away/into the stars/never see your face/it would make my world such a better place.” She comes off as cold but her vocals are seeping with emotion. Katy puts much more feeling into the bridge where she confesses “I know that you care/but it’s never enough” and follows-up with an incredible belt that transitions right into the final chorus where she continues to sing powerfully. I love everything about this song and it demonstrates just how good of a signer she is.

She continues to tackle R&B in Disappear and it’s not as immediately addicting like the other tracks but it has some great lyrics, “so sad that we have lost all our innocence/something that was pure is now covered in red/tainted by the role to become a woman.” The percussion-based beat remains steady as it moves from the verse to the chorus and the mellow vibe really gets to you after a while. Her background vocals in the chorus are lovely and as it moves to its end she puts more feeling into her performance, “oh-oh-oh, where did our hearts go?/oh-oh-oh, I can’t find you, no.” This didn’t have any effect on me before but after letting it sink in, its subdued atmosphere has grown on me and I appreciate it a lot more. Broken Record brings the fire back and it’s another hit. Katy’s longing, sugary vocals are backed by thumping electro beats, “I would toss and turn at night/with your voice in my head/like a broken record/all the words you said.” Ditching the sweet tone, her vocals are forceful in the chorus but they’re also vulnerable. This is another track that allows her to showcase her phenomenal singing ability. The soaring chorus is emotionally charged and it envelops you in an infectious drum and bass beat. It’s the best of both worlds. The contrast between the verse and chorus is excellent and they build each other up nicely. The bridge receives a melody makeover as it features heavier and grimier synths that lead back into the drum and bass beat where Katy finishes off by repeating “like a broken record.”

The album continues to impress with Lights On (feat. Ms. Dynamite) and it’s an amazing collaboration with a slight urban feel. This is one of the more dance-friendly tunes and it begins with a sure-fire hit chorus, “I keep on moving with the lights on/so come and play me just one more song.” It’s simple, straight to the point and catchy. Ms. Dynamite is an interesting inclusion and it’s great to see a female rapper rather than a male rapper. Her reggae, hip hop style of rap fits in perfectly and it’s so damn addicting, “rude girl, you know we look hot/from we tick the time, we drip drop/caught up in the night/we ain’t ready to go home yet.” She brings it to a higher level and Katy comes in with her energetic vocals. I like how you get to hear their voices together at the end of the track and they sound really good. Another favourite, Easy Please Me, has Katy complaining about boys and I was hooked right from the start, “standing at the bar with my friend Olivia/we were trying our best to catch up.” She sing-talks through the verses with hammering percussion and in the chorus, stuttering synths and a slick bassline join in. “It’s not that easy, it’s not that easy/these days can’t find a man to please me/their lines are far too cheesy/no boy is on a level, believe me,” she exasperates in the catchy, laid-back hook. I love the blunt, humorous lyrics that pop up once in a while, “now I love a bad boy mentality/but I don’t want to be visiting no jail,” and the highlight comes at the end where Katy performs in a stronger tone which brings new life to the hook.

Katy’s collaboration with Magnetic Man, Perfect Stranger (feat. Magnetic Man), makes its way on the album and it was featured on their self-titled debut as well. She provides her gorgeous vocals to the subtle dubstep verses where she puts a lot more emphasis on the emotion in her voice, “your energy when you touch me/lifted me off the ground/your words to me are like music.” The verses expand into rapid percussion and synths for the chorus, “I don’t know (I don’t know)/who you are (who you are)/all I really know is there’s something your heart.” The upbeat nature of the hook makes it super catchy. Furthermore, I love the floating bridge and Katy takes a softer approach to her voice, adding another nice layer to the track. Ending things off is the incredible Hard To Get and it brings a new sound to the album, acid jazz with a touch of house all wrapped up in sultry vocals. It’s a great way to end an evening of partying which is exactly what this album is all about. The sounds of nature in the intro are a vast departure from the previous songs but once the rest of the beats kick in it feels right at home. Katy’s vocals are sublime and her light, groovy tone makes this truly spectacular. The chorus is laced with horns that bring the melody to an all new high and she bounces effortlessly to the beat with her top-notch vocals, “why don’t you open up/come a bit closer (to me)/I wanna show you/exactly what we could be.” During the final part, Katy’s vocals become more soulful and passionate as she exclaims, “please, oh baby please/oh baby, why you playin’ hard to get with me/I will keep on waiting till you don’t.” The mix of electro and jazz leads to a brilliantly unique production that would have many starlets jealous. Katy also gives her thankyous before it comes to end and this is the first time I’ve heard this done. Most people don’t read a singer’s thank you notes and this is a great way to expose them to it. It actually suits the track really well and Katy is so adorable.

Water is a hidden track and it continues with the organic instrumentation, only this time it’s livelier. Its composition makes it seem short because it just flows right through. The instrumental is otherworldly, beautiful and soothing which creates an entrancing atmosphere. Topped of with her radiant vocals it becomes exotic and it’s simplicity is quite endearing, “so equivocal/where does this all fit in/when you’re the focal point of my thinking?/am I too hopeful/or am I sinking into your world of sin?” Katy jumps back into synths in Something New, an iTunes bonus, and while I’m not too fond of it, it has a pretty sick beat. Her voice is great, as usual, but I feel like it’s missing something that makes it pop out. It is growing on me though and I like her voice in the chorus because she sings with a tone she doesn’t use often on the album. It’s raw and she puts aggression into her voice, making her sound almost desperate. “There is/no end/or limit to/the places that/you can take me to/come here /come teach me something new.” She throws in some catchy ad-libbing in the bridge and tops the song off with a few slow choruses where her voice is subdued to a gorgeous, vulnerable tone. Louder is included on the American iTunes release and its one hell of a song. The drum and bass steadily increase in volume as do Katy’s ad-libs and her reverberating vocals creep their way in before the song breaks into the first verse. There’s pop, a little bit of hip hop and a whole lot of dubstep in this infectious masterpiece. The song is repetitive, the verses are exactly the same, but everything about it is perfect. “I’ve been awake for a day now/twenty-four hours yet still/I want it louder” she sings in the chorus and it starts to build up as she repeats the title until it explodes into mind-blowing synths. The breakdown is incredible and it has such a grimey, underground sound. I’m so glad it was added to the US release because it’s one of her best songs.

Conclusion: On A Mission is smart pop at it’s finest. It’s not your typical dance music or David Guetta-like productions that have become so popular these days. It’s an old school, mixed with the underground and commercial sound that is highly infectious and enjoyable. It’s a remarkable release because it doesn’t sound like anything else out there and it still has hooks that are so hard to ignore. Katy is unlike other pop artists in so many ways. Rather than relying on her attire or image, it’s all about the voice and music for her. She’s one of the few electro artists who don’t rely on vocoder/auto-tune and by just rocking a pair of sneakers and jeans she attracts large numbers of people. The album is all about clubbing and having fun but it’s emotional, serious and there’s depth to all the songs. It’s up there as one of the best pop records of the year and it’s only her debut.

Recommended Tracks: Witches’ Brew, Louder, Go Away, Broken Record, Easy Please Me, Hard To Get, Why You Always Here and Power On Me

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  1. i agree with u!!! this album is just amazing because every song have a special sound and beat! i bought it :3

    • I still need to purchase it! I’ll probably end up getting it soon. It took a few listens for it to sink in but now it’s one of my favourite albums. I don’t usually listen to the genres present on the album and they’re so different from the usual electropop I hear. Katy has a great voice which makes it even better!


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