It’s been just under three years since Lucy Rose dazzled everyone with her wonderful debut album Like We Used To, serving as one of the year’s most exciting debuts. Last week, Rose followed up that folk-centric record with Work It Out, her sophomore effort which sees the singer/songwriter take a turn of direction.
The intricate acoustic guitars that served as the core for her previous album have been (mostly) replaced by thicker, bolder atmospherics. The sheer array of sounds packed into the album, at times, can come across as confusing and slightly overwhelming. There are moments in the album where Rose’s voice is drowned by surges of bass and electronics, such as in the album’s title track. This is a slight disappointment, as Rose possesses an entirely unique and captivating vocal: which is what made Like We Used To such a special album. The sombre, more simplistic nature of the instrumentation allowed Rose to really let her voice take centre-stage.
Whilst there are very few weak track on the album, there seems to be something missing. The glue that bound her debut together to give it its cohesive and authentic feel isn’t echoed on Work It Out. Album opener “For You” and “My Life” are great examples, as both begin with Rose in her element, her delectable voice transcending the beautifully arrangement guitar melodies. However, it’s in the second halves of both songs, where things begin to fall apart. In an attempt to create a sense of growth, the production is strengthened by drums and electronics that feel out of place.
Serving as the album’s lead single, “Our Eyes”, along with “Cover Up” and “Koln” all come across as album highlights due to the fact that they all convey and express something more. On “Our Eyes”, Rose flourishes as she finds the perfect balance between the cheery production, those melodious musings and endearing, heart-warming lyrics.
It’s towards the end of the record however, where Rose really pushes the boat out in terms of instrumentation and experimentation. “Cover Up” could almost be described as a hybrid track; bringing together elements and sounds from a number of genres such as electronic and even hints of hip hop. This may be of fruition from Rose’s work as a backing vocalist for Bombay Bicycle Club’s “Home By Now”, and in all honesty, it’s a match made in heaven. The sharpness of the production, with its thumping drums and sprawling guitars beautifully juxtapose (or cover up) Rose’s light and floating vocal delivery.
All is not harmed however, because the developed pop sound has most definitely paid off when it comes to album sales and chart positions; with Work It Out entering the UK Albums chart at number nine upon release, beating Like We Used To which peaked at number thirteen. All in all, Rose must be praised for branching out of her comfort zone with Work It Out, as there are definitely moments of genius hidden in there. However, it seems that she just needs to work it out, a little more.