VV Brown popped up in London in late 2008 with the single “Crying Blood,” which was written on a thrift-store guitar with one string and nail-polish fret marks. The Attic EP, Brown’s first U.S. release, does not contain the original version of this song, which is perhaps its first mistake. “Crying Blood” itself — whose jaunty and colorful, albeit seizure-inducing, music video has somehow yet to end up as an iTunes ad — was what landed Brown her contract with Island Records to begin with, and it sums up her musical style (which she describes as “doo-wop indie”) better than any of the songs offered on this EP do. The Attic consists of four songs lifted from Brown’s debut album, Travelling Like the Light, which is scheduled for a U.S. release in February 2010.
The opener, “Game Over,” is a far too slickly produced pop song and sounds closer to bubblegum acts from earlier in the decade (only if Jaguar Wright sang them). With lines like, “I don’t really care, ‘cause this is my life and not a game of poker,” lots of “na na na” action, and a video that hosts more costume changes than a Britney Spears concert, this song isn’t really impressing anyone. The acoustic version of “Shark in the Water,” while not the most thought-provoking ditty, is an enjoyable enough song that surpasses the actual production if only because the original chorus instrumentals are more befitting to a Tiger Beat artist, which is why it’s not that shocking that the original version was included on an episode of The Hills’ spin-off, The City. At least you know what you’re getting yourself into with acoustic guitar pop. “Crying Blood (Andrew Weatherall Remix)” is a hazy, outer-space version of the original, which isn’t really a good thing, and also a shame considering Weatherall is capable of making a really kick-ass mix.
This all adds up to kick drum–heavy “Quick Fix” becoming the best song on The Attic. And that’s not OK.
Brown is at her best when her voice is enabled as the main instrument, which is why she’s become something of a YouTube sensation with her recent dorm-room covers of Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite,” Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” and Drake’s “Best I Ever Had”). While Travelling Like the Light has some stronger material to offer, The Attic sounds more like a collection of B-sides and missteps.