Dido _ The girl who has returned

With guest appearances with legendary ambient musician Brian Eno and rapper-du-jour Kendrick Lamar, the British songstress returns after a four-year hiatus with a new album that has stellar moments but if taken in large doses doubles for a sleep aid

DIDO/ THE GIRL WHO GOT AWAY

If you're old enough to recall the turn of the millennium, then you probably know the words to Dido's smash hit Thank You by heart. Included on her 1999 debut, No Angel, the single gained further global recognition through Eminem's song, Stan, which sampled an entire chorus of Thank You. Dido quickly became one of the most popular female artists of her time to have emerged from the UK. Her first two albums, No Angel and Life For Rent, were best-selling albums in the UK during late 1990s up until the early 2000s. Locally, Thank You and White Flag have become staples for live bands to cover as well as go-to choices for many karaoke enthusiasts.

Following an underwhelming reception for her third studio effort, Safe Trip Home, Dido decided to shift her sound on her latest release. Besides the usual ballad offerings (No Freedom, The Day We Went to War), The Girl Who Got Away is permeated by electronic hints _ a clear sign of the involvement of her brother (Faithless' Rollo Armstrong), and a stellar line-up of hit-making producers including Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Bruno Mars, fun.), Rick Nowels (Madonna, Cee Lo Green, Lana Del Rey) and Greg Kurstin (Pink, Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson).

The electronic influences shine on tracks such as Blackbird, Love to Blame and End of Night. The latter sees the mild-mannered Dido delivering a kiss-off to her lover, cooing ''I feel nothing when you cry/I hear nothing, see no need to reply.'' Then there's the track that everyone's talking about. Let's Us Move On has generated a buzz well before the album's release mainly because of ''it'' guest rapper Kendrick Lamar. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to the hype nor reach the level of Eminem's Stan.

The rest of the album plods along in the same way as her previous albums have. The large part of it can be attributed to Dido's voice.

While there's no denying that it's a thing of calming beauty, her unaffected vocals can bore listeners. It's a known fact that listening to a Dido album uninterrupted can seriously result in an unplanned snooze.

Despite adventurous musical shift and unexpected collaborations, The Girl Who Got Away doesn't break any new ground here (although the deluxe edition does include remixes from Armin Van Buuren and Benny Bennassi).

Dido's fans will enjoy what she's capable of offering, whether it's her earnest voice, easy-listening melodies or relatable songwriting.

THE PLAYLIST

Yaak Lab (featuring Pearwa of Yellow Fang)/ Sa Kod Jai

As a fervent fan of all-girl indie outfit Yellow Fang, we're thrilled to share with you a collaboration between the band's drummer, Pearwa "Pear" Jiraprawat Na Ayudhaya, and electro DJ/producer Yaak Lab. Remixed by French DJ Geyster, Sa Kod Jai (Spellbinding) puts the female rocker in the disco-inspired context complete with electro melody and synth effects. As a drummer, Pear does a respectable job in delivering her sweet vocals which nicely complement Yaak Lab's dance floor leanings. Prepare to be spellbound.

Demi Lovato/ Heart Attack

Following her stint as a judge on season two of the US version of the X Factor, teenage pop senstation Demi Lovato returns to the music scene with a new single, Heart Attack. Included on her forthcoming fourth album, the track embodies the same spirit as her previous hit, Give Your Heart a Break, with its electropop influences paired with her ability to belt out in the similar fashion as Kelly Clarkson. While the lyrics may leave a lot to be desired ("Cause I don't wanna fall in love/If I ever did that, I think I'd have a heart attack"), the track overall shows an impressive growth on Lovato's part.

AlunaGeorge/ Attracting Flies

Everything we've heard from AlunaGeorge so far is nothing short of pop brilliance-be it the warped catchiness of You Know You Like It, the endearing quirkiness that is Your Drums, Your Love, and the recent built-for-the-dance floor collaboration with Disclosure, White Noise. The much-buzzed British duo keep the ball rolling with Attracting Flies, another track taken from their forthcoming debut album, Body Music. "Let away fairy tales and, little white lies/Everything you exhale is attracting flies," sings the scorned Aluna Francis as she coolly brushes off her ex-lover over George Reid's trademark glitchy synths.

Drake/ Started From the Bottom

After making appearances on some of the biggest singles last year including A$AP Rocky's F***in' Problems, and Kendrick Lamar's Poetic Justice, it's time for the Canadian rapper to claim back the limelight. Started From the Bottom stands as his first single from his third studio album, Nothing Was the Same, as well as a clear attempt to amp up his street cred in the rap game. Sharing similar stylings to those of fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar, the song details Drake's early life and career struggles to the background of solemn piano loop and snare.

Little Boots/ Motorway

Ahead of the release of her long-overdue second studio album, Nocturnes, British electropop songstress Little Boots follows up Superstitious Heart was featured in our Playlist a few weeks back) with a taste of the new record called Motorway. Starting off with a quiet synth loop, the track accelerates on a propulsive bassline against which she appropriately croons "Meet me on the motorway/Together we could make our great escape/Meet me on the motorway/Maybe we can find our perfect place." We don't know about you, but this seriously makes us want to take a night drive out of town somewhere.

About the author

Writer: Chanun Poomsawai