ICYMI, 2019’s been UK singer Mabel’s year of niche-carving in the Brit-pop world: that which makes room for a glossy-voiced alloy of sweet-and-sour pop and tropics-dipped Dancehall. Daughter of famed Swedish singer-DJ-rapper-songwriter Neneh Cherry, the 23-year-old artist caught late-Spring/early-summer radio attention with singles “One Shot”, “Mad Love”, and “Cigarette [feat. RAYE & Stefflon Don]”, and now releases her breakout EP.
Her first studio album, the dual-sided High Expectations, marks the newcomer’s arrival in fierce female, Ariana-esque territory, complete with cool R&B moments and unbothered ex brush-offs.
“And when it all crumbled, I was sure I’d be lost/But I’d always known my way, I guess I forgot…”, affirms Mabel on piano-backed power ballad, “I Belong to Me”. Poster girl for the subsequent breakup glow-up and leaving ’em on ‘read’, Mabel’s pop’s newest independent woman exemplar, and the self-love looks good on her.
Her easy mend for heartache? A simple combo explained on anthemic club bop “Don’t Call Me Up”: sweating it out with the girls on a neon-lit dance-floor—ice-cold mixed drink in hand—and the fight of tears by way of a swift reality check: [“And I know you said that I changed with my cold heart/But it was your game that left scars”].
A comforting, open-armed dedication to mental wellness (and un-wellness), “OK [Anxiety Anthem]” pauses for a vulnerable, all-too-real vent session for those days when the world seems to be closing in: [“‘Cause it’s OK not to be OK, it’s OK if you feel the pain/Don’t gotta wipe your tears away, tomorrow’s another day”].
Featuring fourteen new tracks and a B-side of already-familiar singles, High Expectations recruits a rainbow of collaborators. To set the album’s slick, rhythmic ambience, Mabel enlists a club-worthy team of artistry: R&B singer Kamille on the finger-snapping “Selfish Love”, Brit rapper with an Afro-Caribbean aesthetic Kojo Fund, on the bouncy “Finders Keepers”, and Rich The Kid on a Jax Jones-mixed jam, “Ring Ring”. The result is a full-hour celebration that pairs well with twenty-something freedom and highlight-beaming #hotgirlsummer power.
Check out High Expectations below.