Contrary to what its title might suggest, the debut album by British singer-songwriter V. V. Brown, Travelling Like the Light took a while to make, and took almost a year from its original July 2009 release in the U.K. to finally land in American stores. But very much as its title would suggest, her single “Shark in the Water” has been stealthily stalking its unsuspecting prey – a mainstream pop audience – for months now. It’s been on my radar since earlier this year when it started showing up on the Logo network’s NewNowNext video playlists, but it’s only recently that the song’s relentless retro-pop grooves have started to rip my limbs apart (figuratively speaking, of course) during my morning commute.
This is great driver’s seat dancing music. It marries a kind of harmlessly sunny, hippie-folky-strummy verse (think Jason Mraz, or think of Train shamelessly ripping Jason Mraz off), with a roaring diva wail of a chorus, turbo-charged by a rocking horn section and devilishly chipper doot-do-doot back-up vocals. She seems so nice, and then you realize (like that guy in those Nicorette commercials) that she’s chewing your arm off and she’s not gonna let go. This is viciously catchy pop, and at a time when most female pop singers (even the ones who can actually sing, Christina) sound like robots, “Shark in the Water” definitively demonstrates a way to make sweetly edgy, playfully relevant pop in 2010, and still sound like a human being.