Considering V.V. Brown’s meticulous pompadour, her moonlighting gig as a model, and her calculated, R&B-kissed pop, it’s tempting to tuck her into the rapidly widening niche of retro-minded British fashion-pop. Most of her debut full-length, Travelling Like The Light, justifies that temptation, offering calculated but likeable pop tunes destined to soundtrack a catwalk or two. But ultimately, the album is more ready-to-wear than couture: It’s well-constructed and accessible, yes, but generally a tamer, reconstructed mainstreaming of a sound that already had plenty of mainstream appeal.
Then again, there’s something to be said for doing right by one’s influences, and Brown capably wields the well-honed retro-pop sound. She’s a straightforward, conventional lyricist, but has a way about a catchy hook, particularly on the radio-ready singles “Game Over,” “Shark In The Water,” and “Crying Blood.” Given her music’s loose “soul” designation, it’s disappointing that Brown sounds least comfortable when she strips down to her piano and voice, as on the plodding “I Love You.” And yet it makes sense: She’s best in the performative, superficial realm, gleefully donning and discarding personas and influences from song to song. Like any good model, Brown is more conduit than innovator, but she wears her sound well.