Pitch-perfect debut

Having a high-profile father can be a heavy cross to bear - it takes mettle and a thick hide for someone to want to follow the said parent's footsteps.

North Londoner Georgia Barnes, 21, is the daughter of Neil Barnes, one half of the 1990s techno behemoth Leftfield, but it doesn't matter. A large part is due to the shroud of anonymity her father prefers.

A multi-instrumentalist and a drummer for hire who has performed for the likes of Kate Tempest and Micah Levi, she wrote, performed and produced her debut album by herself. The result is an eponymous record which expertly threads contemporaneous sounds - grime, hip-hop, dub, R&B - into a compelling testament of self-independence.





It sounds urbane, worldly wise and current. It is a pitch-perfect documentation of 21st-century London. But it is also a personal confessional box. Inspired in part by her parents' separation, she explores her innermost anguish without fuss and embellishment.

"No ocean that would bring me to you," she sings in a near-automaton voice in the last track You, a song that squiggles and bristles with synths and sci-fi menace.

It is an anti-ballad that somehow sounds more emotionally resonant by virtue of the fact that she doesn't make a song and dance out of it.

Tell Me About It rides on the same passive-aggressive strategy. "Ooh I love you too much/But then I hate you too much," she intones on Tell Me About It, alluding to "what my father used to say". The matter-of-fact delivery belies the heartache.

A percussive thrust cuts through the squelchy beats. You shimmy and feel the emotional tug-of-war.

When she turns up the volume, she can shake the foundations.

Be Ache is a spectacular juggernaut of eye-popping beats and melodic swerves, as her voice, splintered, warns that "you're making me the enemy".

Even better is Move Systems, a gorgeously inventive number which melds the strengths of two acts she has supported before: the eeriness of The Knife and the swagger of M.I.A. Against an industrial mix of tribal drums and lightsaber synths, she half-raps about the systems which "always lie about who we are".

You marvel at her versatility and sass. She follows it with, surprise, a pared-down Heart Wrecking Animals. It is a track so airy and cinematic, you imagine a falling comet streak across the night sky.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'Pitch-perfect debut'. Print Edition | Subscribe