VV Brown Spearheads Britain’s Post-Winehouse Pop Economy
Well, you could not be faulted for thinking that’s the cynical strategy behind VV Brown. A British singer/songwriter, Brown’s style is, like Winehouse’s, retro in a ’40s/’50s/’60s way, with her outfits recalling the Andrews Sisters or early-’60s girl groups and her music recalling rockabilly. Moreover, the song above is called “Crying Blood,” a title (and hook) that would seem to channel a certain craziness.
But while Brown may certainly be inflected toward Winehouse, her actual music and image lean a different way. The particular area of style Winehouse slumps toward is a trashy B-movie kind of louche, cheaply artificial and liable to come apart at any moment. Her music reflects this emphasis on messiness, all analog soul and feeling, loose and old, lived-in, worn. Brown, on the other hand, pulls a Kenley without the twitchy desperation, calm and collected and very neat, while her music pressgangs the B-movie sounds of rockabilly into a modern sharpness and precision, speeding everything up and surrounding it with electronics and making it tight. Where Winehouse exudes a romantic unpredictability, Brown channels firm confidence and a kind of power that’s very compelling.
Winehouse, for all her faults, seems like one of those odd accidents that pop needs every once in a while to move things forward. It’s not that everyone should be copying the Dap-Kings’ sound, but by bringing in a new and rich set of stylistic reference points, she seems to open the door for some interesting things to be done.