Fleur East, the 2014 X-Factor sensation and runner up, who we all watched grow as an artist on the show last year, has released one of the sassiest albums of the year. Debut album Love, Sax and Flashbacks sounds straight out of the eighties from the get go. Lead single “Sax” is everything you can wish for from a lead single; it is sassy, powerful and features some of the best backing I have heard for years. This backing consists of funky bass guitars and some sexy sax, but Fleur’s soulful and unique style adds to the quality of this eighties R&B inspired track.
The second track “Breakfast” sounds very current but features some crisp pop-like synthesisers that would not have sounded out of place in the eighties of course. The track sounds very fresh and is something I did not expect from Fleur. She manages to fuse the eighties backing with the current subject matter in no way I have heard before. “More And More” is very much more of the same, but sounds almost Jackson inspired. The backing is pretty much the same but sounds a lot more uplifting with happy sax stabs and more eighties synths. She certainly comes out of her shell much more as lyrically, there is more conviction and feeling.
“Gold Watch” on the other hand, sounds like her version of “Uptown Funk” and fails to hit the mark maybe because of the comparisons that can be made. However, the instrumentation is similar to “Sax” and saves what is ultimately a poorly written song. “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone” starts with the funk meter set to high with a bass guitar the main culprit, but slowly cools and fades. This is until the introduction of a rapping Fleur East which is something unexpected, on the other han, no matter how good she is on this track, she is guilty of some cultural appropriation, disregarding any British musical originality she had left.
The next few tracks offer very little change as she sticks to the style she has ultimately adopted, with “Paris” being the weakest track so far, especially lyrically. “Kitchen” is a slight improvement as she brings some fire with rap verses that can rival some female rappers of today and a hook that sounds great by itself, before things get a lot funkier with “Over Getting Over“, the bass guitars again dominate on a track that wouldn’t look out of place on the eighties disco landscape.
“Baby Don’t Dance” starts with a sample variation of the saxophone stabs from The 45 King’s “The 900 Number”, and for this reason really packs a punch. The rest of the song struggles to cope with the intensity of the sample and is lyrically quite gimmicky. Despite this, the track as a whole is not spectacular but is worth a listen.
“Tears Don’t Dry” is not very memorable but shows Fleur’s softer side. After this however comes “Never Say When“, which sounds like the R&B of the late eighties/early nineties and maybe even Janet Jackson-esque. The modulated synths mixed with the funky bass line and Fleur’s unmistakable voice, make this song a future hit and may cause nostalgia for many parents out there.
“Like That” has potential but barely reaches the heights of any of the songs before it, this being said Fleur makes the song stand strong with her amazing vocals. “Serious” has a Jackson’s blame it on the boogie vibe and really sounds great vocally, instrumentally and lyrically. “Know Your Name” has a Ska style and sounds very average, however she does embrace a British accent to rap which is very pleasing to hear. She ends the album with her cover of “Uptown Funk” which speaks for itself, but really does sound flat in some parts and a cover of ‘Girl on fire’ in which she shows the power her voice possesses.
All in all, this is a strong debut album effort and may even get Fleur a few number one singles. Throughout she has not compromised on style and has shown everybody exactly what she can do. Expect this to pick up some momentum in the new year. Fleur East’s Love, Sax And Flashbacks is out now on Syco Music and is on hand for a top 10 finish in the UK album charts this week, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Joshua James