O2 Academy 2, Oxford
28th February 2014
Foxes has spent quite a while getting to a place that feels as if it doesn’t exactly fit her. This very week “Let Go For Tonight” has given Louisa Rose Allen her first solo top ten single, two years after her first release; she’s spent the intervening time floating around the blogosphere, warbling with – among others – Fall Out Boy and collaborators du jour Disclosure, winning a Best Dance Recording Grammy with Zedd for the soaring “Clarity”, explaining her fashion style on Vevo and presumably being groomed to within an inch of her life by Sony.
Tonight the Southampton chanteuse pirouettes around with neither nerves nor arrogance; the rumbling drums and piano of her two musicians remind me of Bastille, and for all I know they might actually be in Bastille, for all that band’s radio-friendly pleasant-indie-by-numbers sterility.
Her better-known songs are the anthemic exhilaration of “Let Go For Tonight” and the advertiser’s dream, “Youth”, but it’s her less showy ones – the isn’t-the-world-a-difficult-place-to-believe-in-yourself winsome electro-pop of stuff like “Beauty Queen” and “Holding Onto Heaven” – that seem to reveal the truer, more contemplative her. Her forthcoming album’s title track, “Glorious”, is, she explains, about not giving up and believing there’s beauty in the world; it could be banal, but she’s not pretending it’s deeper than it is.
The Swaythling songstress is Cath Kidston to Katy Perry’s Topshop, and her “people” need to be unashamed about it. The marketing image gives her a Charli XCX or Sky Ferreira vibe, but it’s stripped her of Marina-style quirk; even if this is the way she’s naturally musically developing, the whole currently somewhat mismatched package feels commercial for commercial’s sake, a last-ditch attempt to thrust a talent into a bloated market. It’s what it’s taken to get her to a wider audience but also might be what leaves her stranded.