Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide

May 2012: half Scottish, half Swedish singer/songwriter Nina Nesbitt arrives in our life with her sumptuous The Apple Tree EP. October 2012: a sensational display at London's Dingwalls - with just a guitar for company - prompts us to put her on our Tips for 2013 list. 2013: Nesbitt pretty much wins over the whole of TMF Towers with a succession of strong EPs and a terrific UK tour, including a sold-out headline show at KOKO. January 2014: debut full-length Peroxide finally sings out in our speakers and proves we were right all along. Nina Nesbitt is a ready-made star.

We've been here before with acts such as Kassidy, where a series of EPs have effectively been rejigged and named a full-length album. Yet, pleasingly, Nesbitt has avoided such trickery with just two of the album's tracks coming from previous EPs ('Stay Out' and 'Hold You'), and even one of those has been spruced up with a Kodaline appearance. Hardcore fans will recognise almost all of Peroxide from recent live shows, but road-testing material is nothing new and the choice cuts suggest fan feedback helped colour the final tracklisting. The deluxe version does showcase more of the EPs with 'Brit Summer', 'The Apple Tree' and 'Don't Stop' all appearing, but it's to the album's credit that it doesn't feel like it misses the established favourites.

What strikes you foremost is the maturity in the writing, an effective blend of real emotion and sharp insight sprinkled with a healthy dose of wit. It's easy to forget that Nesbitt is just 19 when she's breaking your heart with the wrenching 'The Hardest Part' - "Pretend you're happy, pretend we're fine / I guess that's easier after all this time". You're quickly reminded of her youth though - in a good way - with the album's frequent pop culture references in tracks like 'Selfies' - "I'll post it up in black and white / With a depressing quote on my life". None of them are done for an achingly hip purpose though, it's all to serve the stories that Nesbitt weaves, be they tales of broken relationships or reminiscing on school days. Nesbitt even remembers to have fun, letting out her cheeky side in the likes of the jaunty 'Mr. C' - "You think I like you 'cause you bought me a drink / But I'm just short of cash and able to wink".

Co-produced with Jake Gosling, the album might have its rockier moments - particularly in the title track and 'Tough Luck' - but arrangements are otherwise subtle, complimenting Nesbitt's formidable vocals (replete with endearing Scottish brogue) rather than trying to provide their own show-stopping displays. A shining example comes on the intimate ballads of 'Two Worlds Away' and the closing 'The Hardest Part', enhancing the vulnerable emotion of the vocals without being manipulative.

17 February 2014: Peroxide is released through Island Records. 23 February 2014: Nina Nesbitt celebrates a UK number one?

Overall

8

out of 10

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