V.V. Brown

Samson & Delilah

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"Children," a peppy song that incorporates that popular ice-cream truck melody lifted from the 18th century folk song "Turkey in the Straw," was released in September 2011, as the lead single from VV Brown's second album. That album, titled Lollipops & Politics -- perhaps destined to be similar to Travelling Like the Light -- was delayed and then scrapped. Two years later, Brown returned with Samson & Delilah, an icy, cathartic set released on her own label. Recorded with past collaborator Laurence Aldridge, as well as Dave Okumu (the Invisible, Jessie Ware), Pierre-Marie Maulini (M83), and Pascal Gabriel (Bomb the Bass and dozens of others since the mid-'80s), it jettisons the playful approach of her previous work in favor of sleek, grave synth pop. Stylistic changes this drastic and sudden are rare. Brown's still dealing with romantic conflict and lame suitors, but while her voice was once at the fore, with the sentiments often delivered in sing-songy taunts, she's now cloaked in echo as she projects seething lines like "Don't patronize me/I'm not your clown" and "I don't really feel like crying/There's no tears here anymore." As thickly layered as some of these songs are, Brown cuts through it all. The songs depict a torrid breakup, and she has restless yet tightly controlled electronic backdrops that suit her mood. Whether she merely had to get this out of her system or has found her true voice, it's one transfixing emotional hell of a follow-up.

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