In one of the similes of the year, the BBC website describes Ellis-Bextor's voice as "part silk cushion, part scorched lizard" - a comparison that brings to mind Björk rather than a pleasant bit of disco-posh. On her third album, she again works the bored-princess trick: crisply enunciated vocals tripping off her tongue in a way that both fascinates and repels. Is it possible to have so much thrumming rhythm action going on in each track, yet sound so detached? She excels herself on the delicious single Me and My Imagination, her disengaged presence helping (along with a walloping melody and frantic violins) to push the song to ecstatic heights. New York City Lights is another perfect balancing of aloofness and hedonism, packaged in reverb and hiss, and a Latin rhythm is at the core of New Flame, a neon delight that would have won Eurovision for us, had Ellis-Bextor been in Helsinki. Next year, eh?
CD: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Trip the Light Fantastic
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian