Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust
Wanderlust. A strong desire to travel says the Oxford Dictionary, and travelling is exactly what Sophie Ellis-Bextor has done for her fifth studio outing. Arguably, the album is a brave move away from the dance pop sheen of previous outings, likely to alienate some of Ellis-Bextor's audience. Yet for everyone else, and indeed any fan willing to go on the journey with her, Wanderlust is a welcome change of pace that frequently works.
Co-written, produced and arranged by Ed Harcourt, the difference is there to see from the get-go with the fabulously melodramatic opener 'Birth Of An Empire'. Its theatrical leanings and string-laden arrangements are a pattern that crops up throughout the album but, crucially, Ellis-Bextor never overplays the vocals, relying on character not caterwauling. The finest display for her voice comes on gorgeous lead single 'Young Blood', yet it's also the straightest effort on here, with 'The Deer & The Wolf' and 'Love Is A Camera' being clearer indications of the vibrant work on display. Ellis-Bextor even finds time to go rock chick on us, with the terrific '13 Little Dolls' and the dark-tinged joy of 'Cry To The Beat Of The Band'. Wanderlust doesn't all work, but as musical direction changes go, Sophie Ellis-Bextor has our interest piqued.