London-Irish gal Katy spends a little too much time sobbing in the ladies room and not enough on the dance floor on her patchy second album.
With her debut album, On a Mission, 24-year-old Kathleen Brien presented the acceptable face of the rave revival. Tracks like Lights On and Why You Always Here marked her out as smarter than the average newbie dance diva with avant-garde production and fresh anthems that didn't neglect the quality of the beats.
It was wildly successful and in some ways paved the way for the likes of Rudimental and the uber cool Aluna George. On her follow-up, Katy has sadly suffered a bad dose of the Emeli Sandés. Too many torch songs slow the momentum and too often Little Red sounds like a play for middle-market crossover.
Back with producer DJ Geeneus and with Disclosure making it 1995 all over again, this tentative Katy B refit doesn't forsake her early garage roots altogether. There is plenty to like here, including the infectious I Like You and All My Lovin’, the sharp and snappy Blue Eyes, and Aaliyah, a take on the Jolene theme in which she teams up with Jessie Ware to tell a true-life story of sexual rivalry on the dancefloor.
There's no doubting Katy B's vocal brilliance but Tumbling Down is more dumbing down, while Emotions, a gymnastic vocal workout with drum 'n' bass, may keep the Sandé-down masses happy.
Coffee table angst and songs that could possibly be butchered on the next series of X Factor are, perhaps, not what an act of this level of energy and sheer vocal power should be at.
It's more misstep than dubstep. Hopefully Katy B will reconnect on album number three.