Betty Who’s ‘Take Me When You Go’: Album Review

Robbie Daw | October 7, 2014 5:20 am

From the very beginning, Betty Who had the songs. At first it was a just handful of pop tunes (actually, less than that) brimming with smart lyrics, at once full of heartbreak and hope, and snappy beats and melodies, all wrapped in the warmth of Jessica Newham’s (that’s her real name, folks) voice. Her EP The Movement was independently released as a free download in early 2013, and the single “Somebody Loves You,” a throwback to the best of giddy ’80s MTV fodder, seemed to take off from there.

What followed over the subsequent year and a half was a series of events that surprised no one who latched onto the Australian singer early on: “Somebody Loves You” found its way into a marriage-proposal video that went viral; Betty Who inked a major label deal with RCA; gigs at festivals like SXSW and headlining tours and morning and nighttime talk show performances all happened; another EP was released; Betty Who was tapped (along with Tove Lo) to open for Katy Perry, a girl who knows how to pick solid support acts, on the upcoming Aussie leg of the Prismatic Tour.

And so this flurry of activity is what brought us to today’s () release of Betty Who’s debut album, Take Me When You Go.

The confounding elephant in the room is that despite the her undeniable charm, the endless touring and the support of a major label — plus, let’s not forget the most important factor: those amazing songs — radio has yet to latch on to Betty Who. And to be honest, something, somewhere, seems amiss in a world where “Turn Down For What” is played twice an hour on any given Clear Channel station, while “Somebody Loves You” has been woefully ignored for over a year.

The fantastic news is that Take Me When You Go offers multiple other opportunities for the airwaves to catch up and right this wrong. Yes, a smattering of Betty Who’s previous-released EP tracks are found here — that would be “Somebody Loves You,” “Heartbreak Dream,” “Alone Again” and the exceptional Stock Aitken Waterman throwback “High Society” —  but they’re cleverly spread out just enough among the nine other tracks so it never feels like we’re being short-changed on new material. (Interestingly, “All Of You,” a 2013 song by producer Peter Thomas “featuring” Betty Who, also made the cut.)

Subdued number “Just Like Me” kicks the whole set off with a minimal bass hook and occasional synth flourishes, allowing the focus to be on Newham’s vocals and lyrical tale of elusive love. “I know you kissed me, and in some fucked up way that’s fine / I know we’ll only end in another sad goodbye,” she sings.

If there’s one obvious successor to “Somebody Loves You” to be found on Betty Who’s debut LP, it’s upbeat track “Dreaming About You” — though as far as possible future single choices go, a savvier option might be “Runaways,” a dreamy, playlist-perfect offering that floats by on a bed of 1980s era synths and a Go Go‘s-worthy bass.

Betty Who does love a ballad, and Take Me When You Go has several new ones to offer, from the R&B slow jam-like “Missing You” to shiny electro-pop gem “Better” to the album’s final number, somber piano lament “California Rain.”

Bottom line: Betty Who’s first album is as good as you hoped. In that regard, she’s done her job an delivered on the promise of that first EP from 18 months ago. Now it’s just up to the rest of the world at large to catch on.

Idolator Score: 4/5

— Robbie Daw

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