Thursday, 5 January 2012

Single Review: Kate Jackson – Wonder Feeling / The Atlantic

Released: 09th January
Label: Sleeping Star
Get It: Amazon MP3 / Ltd. Edition 7”

Solid return from one of the 00's best pop stars. It lacks a little magic, but there's still time to fix that.

In the three and a half years since The Long Blondes split singer Kate Jackson has been remarkably quiet releasing only demos and last year's 'Date With Dawn' download under the name Kate Jackson Group. What's happened to the Group for her first proper single is unclear but with a widescreen sound and borrowing the feel of counter-cultural films of the '70s we're not in Sheffield any more.

It's not simply a case of having sanded down The Long Blondes artsy edges, it's more of a complete reinvention of her character. Where Kate was previously charity shop retro glam, this is Kate the chart aping pop star. Her voice is much cleaner, losing the shrill wail of 'Separated By Motorways' and never going as quiet as the whisper of 'Heaven Help The New Girl'. Musically we're moving close to Killers territory. Blame the producer for this perhaps, but the main problem with this single is that it's just too ordinary. Put simply, 'Wonder Feeling' is a straight down-the-line rock song with Jackson belting out the chorus.

But not being her former band doesn't mean that it's all bad. With the fuzz guitars and background washes of synth 'Wonder Feeling' has a BIG sound. Jackson's backtracked vocals provide girl-group harmonies to her own lead whilst this is emphasised with the handclaps and Butler's wall of sound. If it doesn't impress on first listen give it another go because more so than anything Kate has ever lent her vocals to 'Wonder Feeling' is a grower.

Kate Jackson - Wonder Feeling / The Atlantic by KateJackson

'The Atlantic' does a fine job as b-side, but is otherwise fairly unremarkable. Fading both in and out it's difficult to see how this would fit on an album, instead seeming suited to a side of vinyl. Kate's vocals are more distant whilst the swells of keyboards are responsible for giving the chorus it's lift. Everything about the song seems done to emphasise the chorus vocal hook; “Flying over the Atlantic”. It's the aural depiction of clouds and the picture of flying when there was still romance in the idea. Unlike the meat that's on the bones of the a-side, 'The Atlantic' is decent but somewhat ephemeral.

With a debut album hopefully coming out this year it'd be easy to expect far too much from Kate Jackson. I, personally, am trying to manage those expectations and simply hope for a collection with a few killer tracks. Still, it'd be nice to be pleasantly surprised, wouldn't it?

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