Singer-songwriter Mabel rose to fame in 2017 with her collaboration with Kojo Funds, “Finders Keepers.” Since then, she has supported Harry Styles on tour, was nominated for the Brits Critics’ Choice Award in 2018 and for Best British Breakthrough in 2019 and has had three top ten singles, achieving a level of success that very few artists can boast before dropping their debut albums. Mabel has now been working on High Expectations for two years, and on August 2nd, she released it into the world.
“Don’t Call Me Up” is Mabel’s highest-charting single, peaking at No. 3 on the UK Top 40. And it’s easy to see why — it’s fun and sassy with brilliant production. When Mabel was on The Graham Norton Show, she explained that she wrote the song after a difficult breakup to express how she wanted to feel in a few months’ time. (Her ex must be kicking himself now!)
My favourite line is “I’m over you and I don’t need your lies no more, ‘Cause the truth is, without you, boy, I’m stronger” because it shows young women that they don’t have to put up with boys who don’t treat them right. The colourful and dance-filled music video has also done pretty well too with 105 million views.
“Mad Love” was the second song to be released from the album. Mabel expresses her sexuality and her desire for a certain someone to give her ‘mad love’. She said in an interview with Genius, “I just want to write a positive song for summer about when you meet somebody, and you like them, and they like you, and how it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.” Out of the chosen singles, this one is my least favourite because it is a bit generic and the lyrics are simplistic, but Mabel’s voice sounds great on the studio version and a cappella in the Genius interview.
“Bad Behaviour,” the third single, is a certified bop with a percussive beat in the background that makes you want to dance. It has a bit of an island vibe as there is something like steel drums in the chorus. The title is ironic as Mabel is making fun of people who think she gets too wild on nights out. However, it is not particularly vocally challenging for Mabel, and the music video is very boring as it’s just Mabel performing on a stage.
Other songs that I love include “We Don’t Say…” which is so chilled that it’s a nice break from all the upbeat songs on this album. I adore the mixing of main and backing vocals in the post-chorus and the concept of the song. My favourite song on the album is probably “Trouble.” Mabel’s vocals on this track are incredible and I love how the different elements of the music come in one by one at the start. “I Belong To Me” is the ballad of the album, and it’s unique because it’s not all piano and strings.
TRACK 9 / TROUBLE: “I came looking for trouble I came looking for you coz I can’t get you out my head” 💭❤ High Expectations out next Friday, pre-order here https://t.co/APLjITaCVH 💕 pic.twitter.com/CvZ2lJTkO7
— Mabel (@Mabel) July 28, 2019
I also really like the intro and outro, which are both called “High Expectations.” Musically, they are the same with both only using some beautiful strings and Mabel’s voice. She alternates between her head voice and mixed voice, which makes for a rather dreamy effect. The intro and outro are seemingly about the high expectations that Mabel has for both the album and herself. (After all, her parents are Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry and renowned producer Cameron McVey).
However, there are a few disappointing songs. “Selfish Love (feat. Kamille)” has a lot of repetitive lyrics, and when Mabel and Kamille sing together, I can only hear Mabel’s voice. Both of the interludes are unnecessary, in my eyes, and “Lucky” definitely doesn’t add anything to the album.
Overall, the album is not as cohesive as it could have been. Most of the songs are amazing on their own, but together, they don’t tell a story. This could be fixed with a little reordering so the album could tell the story of a relationship falling apart. With all that being said, High Expectations is pretty great for a debut and Mabel will only get better with experience. I give this album a 7/10!
Featured Image via @Mabel