Single Review: Imelda May – ‘Road Runner’

“Her feverish excitement is near-on exhausting but delightfully infectious”


Digital Release: September 11, 2011

Physical Release: N/A

If the sheer number of summer festivals this year has been enough to make devout festival-goers bored – especially seeing as summer never really arrived this year – then spare a thought for the artists having to heave a stage-full of musical equipment all over the country just for an hour slot, if that, at Glastonbury, V Festival, Bestival, Reading and Leeds and the rest. And Imelda May, having made an appearance at nearly every one of them, isn’t showing signs of stopping now that she’s got a re-release of her third album ‘Mayhem’, the adventurously-titled ‘More Mayhem’ at the ready, and she’s re-affirming doubts that she “never, never slows down” with the lead single, ‘Road Runner’.

Now, Imelda May has always given the impression she was born into the wrong decade. Like Caro Emerald and Paloma Faith, she chooses the unmistakeable rockabilly swing of the 50’s over the ermm… ‘fresher’ beats and odes to clubs, and she’s pretty much shot herself in the foot from the very start. It’s easy to get the impression May has happily struck a deal that sees her exchange everything other more commercially successful acts rely on – flesh revealing, songs about dance-floors, amazing choruses. Instead she opts for sass over smut, guitars over synthesisers, devilish lyrical savvy over recycled “ayer” references and her signature fiery red lips and retro blonde quiff complete the image.

‘Road Runner’ is, like a lot of her upbeat vintage romps, one brilliantly fun track, with perfectly executed, tongue-twisting lyrics and a galloping drum beat, her deep bluesy croon prancing proudly alongside it – “Got no class, no glass/Ceiling to break/I never stop… ‘cause I’m on the make!”. May playfully commands the instrumentation with ease never forgetting to give it it’s own space – the obligatory guitar solo – redolent of Eddie Cochrane by way of Wanda Jackson. Her feverish excitement is near-on exhausting but delightfully infectious, and with some impressive acrobatic vocals, and a subtly bemusing tone of nonchalance, you feel like her lip-curling rockabilly mistress image is more than that – it’s an wholly credible façade; far more convincing than any unimportant ingénue at the top of the charts claiming to be something they’re not.

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