If Cruel World saw Phoenix O’Neill opening up her soul in a cathartic and confessional way, a slice of from the heart, honest emotion, I Need You navigates some more expected pop waters. This track from the same debut e.p. Out of the Ashes, is the perfect balance to the more considered and understated strains of the aforementioned track, riding on a more obvious commercial pop ticket but still blending her now trademark mix of tried and tested commercial elements with cutting edge and cultish approaches.
On the surface it is an infectious and accessible number, one that is going to charm the pop audience, wow the indie kids and with its confident back beats and solid grooves will be a firm favourite with the more dance audience set of clubland. But as this is Phoenix O’Neill you can guarantee that the song is cleverer than it first appears. It’s main trick is out in the open, an inspired use of dynamic. It accelerates and slows in staccato bursts moving from strident drives to brooding lulls, from spiralling crescendos to sultry lows at a turn. The result is a song which at first keeps you guessing but once you have your ear tuned you can just revel in its rich tapestry of textures and tones.
It temptingly holds back when you expect it to run wild, breaks free when you thought you had it under control. It builds big sounds without swamping the song with too much instrumentation and the depth and texture it carries is the result of creating enough space to let the songs individual components breath and flow, to have time and room to let the listener become beguiled by its heady mix of restraint and drive. It also weaves subtle piano, electronic washes, delicate musical motifs and supple musical detail around the songs main sonic trust.
It hooks, it zings, it pops and it certainly grooves, it is infectious and accessible but it is also cleverly put together, sassy, soulful and groovesome, and it adds an unexpected lyrical astuteness to this often misunderstood genre, so much so that the end result is nothing less than deep and meaningful pop. In short it is pop in an evening dress, okay maybe not an evening dress but in the classy attire of an up-scale clubber, pop with an eye on the long game, pop reaching its full potential. Pop with a PhD? On first listen you may think that it is just another throwaway pop song, but before very long you will realise that its a throwaway pop song that you will want to keep forever! Whatever will they think of next?