IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 30 Monday, 19 October 2009 London Lite AS TEENAGE obsessions go, Twilight is a pretty wholesome one. Okay, so Stephanie Meyers sexy vampires may not exactly fit that description, but the sexual abstinence message is sensible, and its hard to imagine many rock-loving parents disapproving of the soundtracks, either. The music in the second big-screen instalment is drawn from the whinier end of the spectrum -- Thom Yorke and Death Cab For Cutie contribute new tracks -- but is amazingly uncommercial for a Hollywood movie. The result: ideal brooding-in-your- bedroom music. AC REVIEWSMUSIC O ne of the certainties of X Factor-generated stardom is that the winners have no choice but to relinquish all semblanceof artisticcontrol to Simon Cowell. Some might say its a deal with the devil (the infernal one this time being a self-regarding chump with the musical taste of a camel and the haircut of a Picasso-designed Action Man). But, when youre as desperate for fame as most X Factor hopefuls clearly are, youre unlikely to be too bothered if youre handing over your future to the man who made Robson And Jerome and the Teletubbies into pop stars -- as long as he repeats the trick with you. However, the price, for anyone with a smidgeon of integrity, is high. Alexandra Burkes heroine is Beyonc, to which anyone who saw their duet on last years X Factor can attest. Beyoncs place among the greats may not yet be secured but, with Crazy In Love, shes at least contributed one of pops greatest songs. By ced- ing control to Cowell, Burke has ensured shes unlikely to emulate her heroine. Crazy In Love was fantastic because it sounded like nothing else -- as Jay-Z rapped at the start, it was history in the mak- ing. Theres as much chance of Cowell sanctioning anything not tried and tested a million times over as there is of him suddenly professing a love for the back catalogue of Velvet Underground. So its no surprise that Overcome not only sounds precision-tooled for the American market, with input from R&B stars de jour ne-Yo and Flo-Rida, but is largely the work of writers with an envi- able record of success. As well as Stargate, the production team responsible for hits by Beyonc, Shakira and Rihanna, theres Red One, whose work with Lady GaGa has produced 2009s two highest-selling singles, Just Dance and Poker Face. nothing is left to chance. The album is frontloaded with all the best tracks, leaving a mushy, undistinguished run of songs before Burkes rendition of Hallelujah rounds things off. The best songs are very good -- which they should be given the amount of money thrown at the project. Bad Boys, her duet with Flo-Rida, may be a chorus in search of a decent verse but its a great chorus. Burkes collaboration with ne-Yo, Good night Good Morning, with its skittery beats and ravey synths (all very 2009), is even better, riddled with shiny hooks, and All night Long is also supreme pop music. Burke, for the most part, manages to rein in her tendency to holler in faux soul style over every track, although towards the end of The Silence she squawks in a manner which suggests shes trapped her finger in a studio door. This is a solid pop album very much of its time and it will sell lots. But will Burke still be around in five years? Or will Simon Cowell have moved on? Alexpaysthe priceforfame Houstonsoverherproblems THE BIG NOISE Alexandra Burke Overcome(Sony,12.72) HHHII PAUL CONNOLLY HeReS an indication of just how big a mess the music business is in. Dont Stop, Annies follow-up to 2004s fabulous Anniemal, has been delayed by 18 months. The wee norwegian genius even had to change labels to get this epic collection of perfect pop released. Some might think that these icily brilliant tunes have been influenced by the likes of La Roux and Little Boots but Annie was there way before them. My Love Is Better, an effortless pop shimmer was produced by Xenomania and features an Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) guitar line, while Dont Like Your Band comes across like Kylie with claws instead of mittens. The pop album of 2009 -- no contest. PC RAMBLIN man Steve Wold was from another time even in his youth: his railroad blues dates from the Depression, not the Sixties. The appeal of this music is timeless -- not just because songs like Happy (To Have A Job), about the joys of seasonal farm work, could be just as meaningful today. His fourth album proves the remarkable noise that can come from a tin can and a piece of string. Obviously Steve wasnt about to get into fidget house at his advanced age, but the authentic ring of tracks like Dark prove hes far from a heritage act -- hes the real deal. AMBER COWAN POP Whitney Houston ILookToYou(Arista,12.72) HHHII To order any CD reviewed, call The London Lite CD service on 01634 832789. All prices include P&P BLUES Seasick Steve ManFromAnotherTime (Atlantic,12.72) HHHHI FOLK KingsOfConvenience DeclarationOfDependence (Virgin,10.76) HHHII AFTeR five years apart, during which time erlend ye reinvented himself as The Whitest Boy Alive, norwegian duo Kings Of Convenience have reunited for an album thats essentially a love song to each other. What we built is bigger than the sum of two, they harmonise on 24: 25. Did we spend this time chasing the others tail? they sigh on Boat Behind. Its simple music about difficult emotions -- theyre friends, not boyfriends -- but the intimacy draws you in, as does the quietness: the silences mean as much as the sounds. You cant dance to it, and I imagine theyll be glued to bar stools when they play it live, but theres something very moving about the Kings new sense of commitment. AC SOUNdTrACK Various artists Twilight:NewMoon (Atlantic,12.72) HHHHIIF YOUVe spent the last decade or two on a desert island you may have missed the fact that the eighties divas diva spent much of that time holed up with her now ex-hubby Bobby Brown ingesting all sorts of recreational drugs. The game has moved on in Whitney Houstons absence. now clean and suitably chastened, she needs to prove herself all over again. This she has managed in America -- I Look To You went to no1 on the back of first-week sales of 305,000 copies, a record for Houston albums. Basically, Whitters wants to tell us all about her problems with drugs. So she spends much of her first album since 2002 hollering about making it through, not knowing how strong I am and moving mountains (that strong, huh?). Which would be all perfectly dreadful if there werent some really strong tracks here. Million Dollar Bill, for example, co-written by Alicia Keys, is probably the finest song shes ever been involved with, coming across like a lost Teddy Pendergrass classic with its disco strings, fluid bass and sinuous tune perfectly complementing her slightly more grainy voice. The elegant mid-pace ballad Call You Tonight maintains the quality and although the power ballads soon take over (the title track is reminiscent of the lung- bursting abomination that was I Will Always Love You, while I Got You is more syrupy than an explosion in wig factory, even if it does at least possess a tune) this is not a bad comeback at all. PC POP Annie DontStop (SmalltownSounds,10.76) HHHHH Commercial success: Alexandra Burke Strong tracks: Whitney index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html