October – aka Emma Logan – began work on Ultra Red with other producers, unfamiliar territory for an artist used to making music from her bedroom. In an interview, Logan said the record was largely finished around August last year – but instead of sending it off, she called her management, asked for all the stems back, and re-produced the entire album again, by herself.
The resulting album is a mixed bag, with certain songs never quite reaching their potential, and others soaring. But the fact that an artist with major-label distribution retained such control over her debut album is an indication of Logan's preternatural maturity as an artist.
Logan hits excellence when she shows restraint, her more measured tracks able to retain the most energy without getting bogged down by production trickery. The album's hat-trick starts with Candy Talk, on which an aggressive kick-drum propels Logan towards a cinematic power chorus that unleashes her stunning vocal range. Following track All She Does Is Stare is absolute pop genius, finding an irresistible meeting ground between Grimes and Avril Lavigne; the track's relentless beat and reverb-heavy chorus deliver an elated celebration of the strength of women. Afterward, Interlude/All I Wanted to Feel offers spacious, ambient breathing room.
Though the record is no doubt a work of meticulously detailed production, certain tracks struggle to kick into gear. Lead single Cherry Cola never quite pulls off its critique of vapidity, only sounding vapid in the process, while Body of Desire limits its strong beat and melody with a muddled chorus.
These critiques don't take away from the fact that for a debut record on which she is the singer, writer and producer, Logan has sculpted a very impressive body of work. Back in early 2016, before signing to Page 1 management, Logan said she was inspired by the sound of construction sites – and you can tell. Her ability to turn the brutal into beautiful is singular and unique, and to have evolved that idea so early in her discography has laid the groundwork for a long and exciting career.
October, Ultra Red
An under-cooked but sometimes excellent debut from local prodigy