Mabel's New Mixtape Proves She’s a Pop Force to Be Reckoned With

All-killer-no-filler 'Ivy to the Roses' is what British music has been crying out for.

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Oct 13 2017, 3:17pm

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Earlier this year, we named Mabel's "Bedroom" the best UK track of the year so far, and for good reason—it's a sugar high of a lust song, and I've yet to hear a headier chorus in 2017. When we profiled Mabel in April, before the release of her EP of the same name, she spoke about how she's been riding the wave of hype built up since she first appeared in 2015 with single "Know Me Better". I've also written before about the lack of especially original, stand-out British woman pop stars (Charli XCX and Jorja Smith cannot, try as they might, handle the burden alone.) But today, with the release of Mabel's debut mixtape Ivy to Roses, I think that dearth might be lessening.

There are lots of talented young women in the British music industry, but over and over again, they're not given the sort of songs that can turn them into stars (exceptions from the last few years are basically just Dua Lipa's "New Rules" and Swedish pop star Zara Larsson's "Lush Life"). Throughout the course of her short career, however, Mabel has proved that she has an expert ear, and Ivy to Roses is further testament to that. Though it flirts with different styles, from classic R&B worship to dancehall flourishes, they're paired with traditional pop structures, creating a recognizable sound that works to all of Mabel's vocal advantages. One of those many advantages happens to be her specific Britishness, and she has the sort of effortless cool I think of when I think of my favorite ever UK pop star, Mutya Buena of the original Sugababes line-up (I do not throw out favourable Mutya comparisons lightly.) It's genuinely exciting, and I think her authenticity is what gives her a genuine shot at mainstream success.

Highlights of Ivy to Roses include opener "Begging," "Low-Key," which has, in technical terms, a belter of a chorus, and her sweet, faithful reimagining of Drake's "Passionfruit," but there's basically no filler at all here—every track offers something different to love. Here's hoping that with its release, and with the rise of Mabel and others like her, we're ushering in a brand new, much-needed era of British women ruling the airwaves once again.

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