Holly Valance - State of Mind
If ever you wanted hard evidence that the music industry is desperately trying to convince us that the 80’s is the new 60’s look no further than State of Mind. Just like Girls Aloud, The Sugababes, and latest boy band off the production line Phixx, Holly Valance has turned to 80’s pop for her inspiration and style. Unlike The Sugababes though, who have the sense to realise that championing anything more than the remnants of 80’s pop culture is bound to end in shame and disaster, Holly offers up an almost nauseating abundance of the yuppie era complete with heavy lip gloss, bad eye shadow and shoulder pads.
The first single also titled State of Mind is a pretty accurate example of what to expect from the rest of the album. Relying on over blown production values and lyrics which sound like they were written on a fag packet the song is a reflection of style over substance in it’s most obvious and obnoxious form. It’s really only Holly’s attitude which manages to keep things bubbling just above water level. While the heavy electronics fused with guitars may serve the double purpose of providing a safe debut single to promote the album whilst simultaneously promoting the 80’s sound for future pop products to exploit, in retrospect (and judging by album sales) it probably wasn’t such a great choice after all. Kylie Minogue’s first single from Body Language proved that it’s quite possible for a glossy pop icon to release a slow burner and still safely hit the No.1 spot. Interestingly enough the opening track from State of Mind - Hypnotic is fairly similar to Kylie’s Slow taking the same minimalist approach with heavy breathing/vocals. If this had been Holly’s first single I can’t help but feel she’d be in a much better position and boasting stronger album sales.
The Kylie wannabe going head to head with the real thing isn’t the only problem facing Holly Valance though. She’s been let down in the quantity/quality department as well. State of Mind can only really claim to have 4 truly good tracks in the bag, that’s just enough for 3 singles and one left over if need be. Without quality songs it’s difficult to ever see her being accepted as anything more than pin-up material for teenage boys going through that difficult period. It’s not all bad though and State of Mind does stand up against albums of similar ilk, admittedly that’s not saying much. The affirmed mentioned Hypnotic is a strong offering raised by Holly’s lust fuelled advance’s and is good enough to be a future single. Everything I Hate About You is unashamedly 80’s electropop and one of the few tracks which are all the better for it. Desire is a real highlight which uses contemporary dance to defuse the plethora of 80’s retro and Curious offers some entertainment just for Holly’s promiscuous vocals over the top of a catchy hook.
Unfortunately this only makes for light compensation when put against the likes of Ricochets which stands out like a sore thumb, not so much for being poor but simply because it’s a modern balled slapped in the middle of an album that’s more 80’s than Whackaday. Roll Over and Over n Out are possibly the biggest offenders which only stand to remind how shockingly bad the 80’s could be. Action tries valiantly to salvage something back with it’s edgy hooks towards the end of the album but everything else in between is just too mediocre to warrant slating or praising, by now you’ve become immune to the big hair poodle perm production values and it all just goes through one ear and straight out the other.
I’ve always supported the Aussie actress turned songstress and I’m readily prepared to give kudos to even the most manufactured of pop stars providing they’re fronting quality music. But as much as I’d like to champion Holly Valance’s music career I can’t help but be a little disappointed with State of Mind. Despite the occasional moment the truth is it’s all to often tacky and over produced (just like the real 80's). You can take some comfort in the fact that the limited CD release contains a DVD featuring all 4 of Holly’s music videos to date but that’s only compensation for reminding us all just how crap the 80’s were. Some of us still have nightmares to this day.