The Brit School, a John Lewis Christmas ad and celeb endorsements on TikTok: there are reasons to arch an eyebrow at the rise of south Londoner Lola Young. Her brand of bruised estuarial verité recalls both Amy Winehouse and Adele. But inside Young’s tales of uneven relationships and black cabs “like back stabs” are shades of the straight-talking young Lily Allen and a smidge of Kae Tempest. Young’s face piercings speak of 2020s attitude, as though daring the listener to make one more assumption before getting thumped by some lung power and incisiveness. Nick Shymansky, who swore off managing artists after he failed to get Winehouse into rehab, came out of retirement to help steer the 22-year-old. Frank Ocean helpmeet Malay is one of three producers here.
The title of Young’s latest outing nods to her schizoaffective disorder; inside are 10 very relatable songs about being Young. Greatest is Don’t Hate Me, a low-slung paean to romantic projection. The album’s bookends – Stream of Consciousness (organ and beats) and Chill Out (electronic, richly orchestrated) – are two more appealing notes to self. If some of Young’s ballads feel more conventional, the jazz-tinged Pretty in Pink reveals an artist who questions, but ultimately knows who she is.