No one does a good intro anymore. Perhaps it’s because the album is a slowly dying format or perhaps capturing the listener for an album’s worth of material isn’t worth it anymore.
They do it with overtures at the start of musicals and if you’ve ever been to the symphony, you know what’s coming when the musicians start to warm up and gently hush before they begin.
And then there’s the intro on Betty Who’s new album ‘The Valley’. It’s one of the best album intros I’ve heard in years and sets up what’s to come on the album beautifully.
Betty Who is an overlooked pop artist. Criminally, if you ask me. Her debut album is full of euphoric and inspiring pop gems – and the theme continues on ‘The Valley’. Yes, there’s more maturity coming through the music here, but Betty manages to do this without losing the fun and quirkiness that makes her so appealing.
It’s obvious to me hearing her music that she is a classically trained musician. There is considered attention to the underpinnings of each song. It helps that she and her long time collaborator met at school studying music in America. This is evident on the opening track ‘The Valley’ because of how beautifully arranged it is. A completely acapella track is hard to pull off, but she does so in spectacular fashion.
Betty has followed the latest marketing technique of dropping tracks as teasers in the lead up to the album release.
While it’s exciting to get access to music sooner, I’m not sure how they pick the songs. As I heard the songs come through, I began to doubt this sophomore album was going to be any good.
‘Human Touch’ is an average tune and good album filler, but as a hype track it lacked the excitement to get the buying public on board. I know she’s called it out as her favourite track, but it isn’t mine.
To be fair, if this album offered 12 different versions of ‘I Love You Always Forever’ the buying public would have jumped on board. I appreciate Betty’s take on the track but it just didn’t excite me in terms of new music either.
Thankfully there are plenty of other pop gems on offer that work with these tracks.
On ‘Mama Say’ Betty’s knack for mixing pop with ’80s synths and fun lyrics is on full display here. She’s basically laying down the law here to her man to get it on.
The accompanying video is also really exciting to see as it features great choreography, something only a confident artist could pull off. There’s something fresh and funky about the vibe this track gives off and I love it. It reignited my love for her work and this project when the video dropped in the lead up to the album release.
“Ride with you, die with you, I’d spend my life with you,” Betty pleads with both herself and her desired lover on ‘Wanna Be’. This message of wishing she was with someone who is taken is so relatable. Who hasn’t missed that opportunity and wishes they had taken it? Set to big drums and a considered arrangement, the sentiment comes through beautifully. I’m with you Betty.
I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but ‘Blue Heaven Midnight Crush’ feels like it could be pulled straight out of a movie from the ’80s. There’s something magical about the atmosphere it creates. It also harks back to her collaboration with Troye Sivan, which is a great connection.
While Betty is now based in New York, I feel like Australians are missing out. She’s immensely talented and while the album started its release week in the top 10 of iTunes, it quickly fell outside the top 30.
Instead we were left with ‘So Fresh – The Hits of Autumn’ and the ‘Trolls’ soundtrack rounding out the top 10.
Wake up people, you’re letting one of your own great artists fade into oblivion here and she deserves far more than that.
Betty Who? Betty Who, that’s who.
VERDICT : 4/5.
MUST LISTEN : The Valley, Mama Say, Wanna Be, Blue Heaven Midnight Crush.