What You Need To Know - August 2, 2019

Mabel's High Expectations: What You Need To Know
by James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Mabel's High Expectations: What You Need To Know

Ever since Mabel's first single found its way almost immediately to radio playlists, the up-and-coming pop starlet has been one of the most hotly-tipped artists around. Hits like 'Don't Call Me Up' have only added to the anticipation for her debut album, the aptly-named High Expectations.

After a delay to the album's release, Mabel's debut finally hits the shelves in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...


A little background...

After re-releasing an expanded version of her mixtape Ivy & Roses earlier this year, adding the singles she's released since it first emerged in 2017, before knuckling down to complete work on her debut album proper. High Expectations was originally scheduled to arrive on July 12th, but the singer moved the release date back a few weeks while still making tweaks to perfect her debut.


Who's producing it?

With 24 producers working across the album's 14 tracks, the production roster on Mabel's debut is a sizeable one that includes names such as Fraser T. Smith, Tre Jean-Marie, Steve Mac, Warren “Oak” Felder and MNEK, among many, many others.


Any special guests?

Plenty on the production and songwriting side of things, but of the laundry list of contributors featured on the album only Camille Purcell, better known by her stage name Kamille, appears as a performer, popping up on 'Selfish Love'.


What does it sound like?

As you might expect from the singles Mabel has released up to this point, much of High Expectations is populated by slickly-produced pop bangers with a tendency to lean towards R&B flavours and dancehall rhythms. 'Don't Call Me Up' remains one of the album's real standout moments, but besides the already-released singles 'Mad Love' and 'Bad Behaviour' you can also see the singles chart potential in songs like 'We Don't Say...' and 'Selfish Love'. Others such as 'FML' and 'Put Your Name On It' follow a similar path but don't quite hit the same heights.

Some of the more interesting moments appear towards the tail end of the album, particularly on 'Stckhlm Syndrome', where a 90s R&B-influenced slow jam cuts through the wall of slick pop to provide one the album's only real left turns.


Does it deliver?

High Expectations provides further proof, if any were needed, of Mabel's evident vocal talent and her debut album is sure to deliver its share of chart hits for the singer. There are times, though, when it feels like the album is playing it a little too safe, and you have to wonder how much of Mabel's personality is being squashed under layers of auto-tuned vocals and slick production.

That said, considering the sheer number of producers and songwriters working on her debut it's remarkably consistent, and while sometimes this approach can make an album feel like a collection of songs rather than one body of work, High Expectations hangs together incredibly well. Wherever Mabel's individuality is allowed to shine through, she soars, and you would hope to see more of that on her next full-length offering because it's in moments like this that Mabel can really stand out from the pack.


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