Usually an endorsement from Perez Hilton would be a good indication to stay away—but when it comes to Toronto’s Darrelle London the gossip magnate (and recent Toronto theatre lead) might have finally exercised some good judgment. Now onto her third studio album, the poppy pianist plying Canadian adorkability is at her finest with her latest batch of oddball observations.
There’s something deceptively coy about London’s lighthearted vocals as they hop along the keys—so chipper they can almost make you miss the deadpan, and sometimes brutally honest, lyrics that really make her stand out. Mingled in is a fair bit of self-deprecation, truly “a candid portrait of modern life as an artist” and one that’s decidedly local as she sings about being caught between Lights and Drake on “After Party Girl.”
It’s a visual that easily translates into a quick way to sum up Tangerine and Blue—juxtaposing the struggle of making it as an artist with an airy soprano and just a dash of electronics. Opener “Not Friends” wastes no time lambasting the two-faced, shallow nature of the industry as the springing beat belying the song’s devious intentions and dramatic chorus.
But it’s “Viral” that finally explores some of London’s mastery of lyrical wordplay as she name drops some of the biggest online fads while ironically lamenting her own lack of a “viral” hit—even as the song conveys a self-assurance that she’s well on her way to fame too. While the song lacks the teeth of Stromae’s “Carmen,” it also reflects the way fame has been redefined, setting the viral video up as the ticket to fame instead of a label and paying homage to her crowdfunded release and the Internet star that took up her cause.
The breathy, layered voices on “You,” as well as a slower pace add a layer of depth to the album at just the right point—proving that there’s more to London than funny observations even as her lyrics continue to paint vivid, honest pictures. And “T-Shirt,” the third track of Tangerine and Blue’s romantic sojourn, comes out as the most polished—a catchy chorus with a satisfying built that shows off a different side of London’s voice and proves she’s ready to be more than a viral hit.
While the remaining second half of the album is never quite as witty as the first, it does a better job of showcasing London as an artist that should be known for more than her offhand remarks—as delightful as they are. A handful of slower tracks shake off a mold before it sets, taking her from talking about making it to showing it.
Top Tracks: “Viral”; “T-Shirt”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)