The tag singer-songwriter brings certain images immediately to mind – acoustic guitars, floral dresses or beards (sadly, never together) and a misguided prioritising of navel gazing self-examination over good old-fashioned entertainment.
Luckily for us, these are all cliches that London singer-songwriter Lara Smiles appears more than capable of neatly sidestepping. Enlisting the production skills of Killing Joke bassist, McCartney collaborator and super-producer Youth, this is the first fruit of the sessions for her forthcoming debut album and it's quite the stonker.
'All For You' kicks off by laying down a slinky, tight funk groove – the press release namechecks ESG but to these ears it's more like their fellow NYC comrades Liquid Liquid – and then throws itself headlong into classic pop chorus in a hail of crunchy guitar crossfire. The ghosts of the Big Apple's legendary punk petri dish CBGBs in general, and Blondie and Talking Heads in particular, seem to be coming out to play as the barriers between dance and rock, pop and punk, headbanging and footsto9mping all dissolve in front of our ears.
Which, from what we've heard. is very much the modus operandi of the album to follow. While it won't all sound like this – Smiles is just as fond of twisting the templates of electronic music to her needs as this guitar-heavy sound - it will doubtless show a similar disregard for convention, which is just how we like it. In the meantime, we challenge to hear this and not catch yourself humming it all next week.
Text by Ben Willmott 2018