Single Review: CocknBullKid – ‘Yellow’

“The overproduction may scupper any residual claim she has to her originally bountiful ‘edginess’”

3 STARS

Digital Release: August 7, 2011

Physical Release: August 14, 2011

Those who’ve ever paid Miss. Anita Blay even the smallest shred of attention since her uneasy début into the music scene (back when she was ‘thecocknbullkid’) via walk-in festivals as she squawked over cheaply-produced electropop productions in a voice so thin it would barely make it past the first row of guests, will have noticed just how she has come on in leaps and bounds since being signed to Island Records, but said leaps and bounds failed to augment her stylistic presence as, rather than being a linear trail, Blay could be seen running about in all different directions trying to search feverishly for a thread of cohesion amongst her work, under the illusion that her own life experiences were insufficient. But nevertheless, a diamond in the rough, her ballsy attitude and devilishly cynical lyrics – two attributes that no manufactured act could ever replicate – played knowingly upon her more light-hearted, almost playful electropop productions (now expertly produced by Marina & The Diamonds’ collaborator Liam Howe) with all the silver-tongued eloquence Island Records hoped she’d become known for. Her commercial success was debateable, and her unique mix of streetwise urban influences and clever pop melodies arrived in the form of the album ‘Adulthood’ decorated with an overriding notion of corner-cutting pop confectionary and overproduction that swamped her vocals; a notion that one should expect once a large record company with their own ideas sticks their thumb in the pie.

Moving onto the fourth single from said album, ‘Yellow’ fits the template CocknBullKid is well-adjusted to. It’s a wonderfully summery piece of expensive-sounding pop with shimmering synths, hooks a-plenty, steel drums and a sharp-witted lyricist who speaks of continually trying to progress in life whilst being stuck in an aimless existence – “Now I will beg, steal and borrow to be bold but I’m yellow/And I don’t want to regret a life that hasn’t happened yet”. The overproduction may scupper any residual claim she has to her originally bountiful ‘edginess’, but her confidence has improved exponentially with her sardonic approach to both music and life. 

‘Yellow’ is an excellent summer single, but it suffers greatly from a contradiction of intentions. To have seen Blay turn from independent artist with a bitter scorn for the unreality of reality into a fully-funded venture into commercialism, it’s reassuring to know she’s still got her lyricism grounding her, but spirals of synths and tornadoes of lavish processing lift her too far afield of her musical comfort zone and what she originally aimed to do, causing the music surrounding Blay’s only remaining asset to be overpoweringly aversive; an oversight on both Howe’s on Island Records’ part.

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