Katy B


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The impending release of Katy B's third album was announced with an image that displayed the names of all the collaborators. So extensive that it was divided into columns, the listing looked like a poster for an all-day, three-stage dance music festival hosted by the singer and songwriter. Old colleague Geeneus excepted, none of Katy B's collaborators here is involved with more than one track. The roster of producers and guest artists is deep and eye-popping indeed, a mix of underground progressives and mainstream-level fusionists that includes veteran grime MCs, younger house producers, and upcoming vocalists. Somewhat surprisingly, the album doesn't play out like a bundle of 13 disconnected songs with platinum aspirations. Instead, also unexpectedly, much of it congeals into a mass of skillfully voiced, sturdily constructed material that is ultimately plain. A handful of tracks does stick out. At the top in running order and quality is "Honey," a lustful slow jam produced by Kaytranada that rides a bobbing two-note bassline. Just under it is "Calm Down," scuffed-up, strings-enhanced neo-garridge made with Four Tet and Floating Points, and an uncharacteristically smoothed-out production from Chris Lorenzo. Slotted into the album's latter half is a Tinie Tempah-less version of the breakbeat belter "Turn the Music Louder (Rumble)," the original of which, billed as KDA featuring Katy B, was released six months prior to the album and topped the U.K. pop chart. Katy, whose almost regal quality now seems to be on the brink of being as visible as her everywoman traits, continues to evolve as a writer and vocalist. Honey nonetheless comes across as an attention-grabbing experiment more than it does a third proper full-length.

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