I think the biggest issue I have with this album is that it feels, and sounds, rushed. The best debuts are those which take years of careful crafting and tweaking, whittling down tracks until you get a perfect playlist, those albums which are full of artistic integrity and identity - something which is totally lacking here.
Everything from the lack-lustre, unimaginative album cover, the lack of album art detailing down to the storage of actual content (with only 10 tracks the album barely lasts 35 minutes) smacks of a mad dash to the finish line. This rush is partly the fault of the well-oiled BBC hype-machine which can almost single handedly claim catapulting Ellie from obscurity to "British sound of the year" Winner in just 6 short months.
There is no doubt at all that the girl is incredibly talented as any of the beautiful demo versions still on YouTube will tell you. With regards to her song and lyric writing skills, that talent is raw and rough and misshapen around the edges but very very beautiful indeed. The demo versions had me hoping for more than just generic female-led electronica from her, that delicate fusion of busty folk, delicate tasteful synths and that quavering child-like fragility of her voice got me very excited indeed. However, all the songs I'd heard and fallen in love with before the album released had been changed beyond recognition on the actual album itself.
The terrible, messy over production on "Wish I'd Stayed" ruined what was, for me, my favourite song of hers to date. Her beautiful voice and instrumentation had been swamped beneath a jumbled untidy sounding mush of overly aggressive synth and predictable pop backing instrumentation. It's just so frustrating to hear all these songs with incredible potential being ruined like this.
That said, the album itself is ok, I mean it's not heart-stopping but it's certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination. There are some real gems here. Best track for me by a mile is "The Writer" which is really very beautiful and really makes the whole thing worthwhile. Other highlights include; "This Love" "Your Biggest Mistake" and "Starry Eyed". It's very easy to listen to, inoffensive synthpop and like I've said her voice is pretty special.
She really is very talented and well deserved of all this success. I just wish she'd had a bit more strength of conviction in her original artistic identity and not let the production team mess around with her songs so much, as her own synth arrangements were soooo much better.
Basically though, if you like the singles (and not just any demos or accoustics you might have heard) then you shouldn't be disappointed, and there is definitely enough good stuff here to make buying this album worthwhile. 4/5