Album Review: Laura Mvula - Pink Noise
Will Russell

WILL RUSSELL

Orchestral pop master goes full 80s, in powerful re-invention…

Laura Mvula won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Album and was nominated twice for the Mercury Prize. Yet, she dares to rip it up and start again, knocks out a tremendous record and has a bundle of fun in the process. Pink Noise introduces a transformed Mvula, a bionic one. ‘Safe Passage’ opens the album with dramatic intent, a thunderous synth and a wild whoop: “I will give you all of my soul for your pleasure.

There were hints of this Mark II Mvula in her previous work. ‘Overcome’ on sophomore album, The Dreaming Room, featured Nile Rogers’ slinky funk lines. Prince dug her. She was a master of encompassing different characters. On the song ‘Nan’ she acted the part of herself and her grandmother Nan, who told her “Write a song I can lift me spirits, write a song I can jig me foot.” On Pink Noise Mvula gets everyone jigging.

A graduate of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Mvula was steeped in the classical form. On Pink Noise, however, the London Symphony Orchestra has left the stage to the synth funk of Fatback and Dirty Mind era Prince.

Even in this new form, Mvula dares to move chameleon like. ‘Church Girl’ is Whitney and Janet. ‘Conditional’ is funky dancehall. The staccato funk guitar riff on ‘Magical’ cuts Luther Vandross with George Clinton Computer Games funk. There is even a smidgeon of No Jacket Required Phil Collins on ‘What Matters’.

Pink Noise evokes the radiant world of John Hughes soundtracks. The stand out hit, ‘Got Me’ is Michael Jackson, Klymaxx and the sound of shackles coming off for a long-anticipated summer where there will be no parking on the dancefloor.

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