Its deceptively jaunty melody belies the betrayal being painfully narrated. This song is about being screwed over, and doesn't shy away form the sharp edge of the sword, eschewing the usual tales of futile reminiscence. Her voice acts as a soothing balm over the juddering synths and punchy beats usually reserved for Robyn album tracks, emotional investment in the song never in question - we've all been there, or seen it.
Performed live, 'No Strings' could act as case study for the argument that writing a song induces more emotional delivery: dripping with energy and spurred with spite- it is a show worth seeing. Yes she swears, an 18 year old that swears? I hear you cry well wait until I tell you: she drinks as well! It's not sensational or gratuitous, 'f*ck' isn't a get out of jail free card when lyrical inspirations are at a low ebb: she chooses her (swear) words knowingly: identifying the specific range of emotion a person in that position would feel. Lyrically intelligent and emotionally mature are two reasons this is a song you need to hear, if you're in need of one more: you can dance to it.
She dropped a new video for ‘No Strings’ just before she began to accumulate acclaim on the summer festival trail: check the video out above the text.
Filmed using actual film creates a naturally warm atmosphere as opposed to the post-production equivalent of an Instagram filter - a technique far too prolific is the music video scene right now [see The Saturdays 'What About Us' as Evidence A]. Chlöe's intensity burns through her glare down camera, there is no fourth wall: she is talking to you, telling you, so sit up and listen.
In interviews Chlöe has been quick to dismiss the single and the rest of the EP as an autobiographical tome: it is as much of what she has seen. Many have their ears turned to Howl, watching her next move with 'No Strings' having already bagged very favourable reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and some bloggers crediting it as her breakthrough track. Her establishment as hot property cemented by her week long tendure as Sara Cox’s Big Thing. This does feel like something new, in an honest way: she listens to good music and has consequently made great music, see Jessie Ware - 'Devotion' for an extended example of what understanding pop sounds like.
Once 'No Strings' has you hooked on Howl you'll be glad to find two more of her offerings readily available: 'Rumours' and 'I Wish I Could Tell You'. The former leads the listener through the worringly prevalent spreading of gossip, born relatively naïvely in the playground, fuelled by puberty and its accompanying confusing emotions tearing pieces out of self esteems with little disdain. The latter, a more morose walk through the inability to articulate feelings when in the heady heights of love and the sullen lows of its fracture.
Suggesting that she is what pop had been waiting for assumes that we could have seen her coming, expected it. We didn't. And that's the beauty of it. Having an English accent doesn't make her Kate Nash, and being honest isn't a trait unique to Lily Allen. The elements of her songs are so unique that it's impossible to draw comparison to her until one day in the not too distant future artists will strive and most likely fall short of being the next Chlöe Howl.
Words: Georgette Mrakadeh-Keane