Endlessly starts off as a promising record by British pop tart Duffy. With a slinky bass, applause and the promise of the collaboration between her and The Roots on full display, opener “My Boy” reacquaints listeners with the delicate voiced songstress.
But the next track simply falls flat, and serves as a metaphor for the rest of the record and is representative of the still-floundering pop industry struggling to maintain relevancy in an ever-changing landscape.
So, just as the listener is tapping their toes to “My Boy,” a respectable, ’70s sounding dalliance, we’re quickly downshifted to a ’50s doo-wop, girl-group slow dance. It’s jarring. It sounds like someone in a suit suggested Duffy replicate Amy Winehouse, recreating her success. You can understand why. Combine some soulful, throwback melodies with charming female vocals and voila. But not only does Duffy not have the chops to pull it off, the resulting songs lack any substance and as a result, ineffectually flit away.
And so the record see-saws on this axis of uneven songwriting and distinct lack of identity. One minute she’s overtly territorial and sexual (“Keeping My Baby”, “Girl”, the aforementioned “My Boy”) and the next she is heartbroken and leaving tear stains on your shoulders (“Don’t Forsake Me”, “Endlessly”, “Hard for the Heart”).
“Well, Well, Well” is clearly the highlight – think this version’s “Mercy” and you’re pretty close. Here, she is confident; belting boasts behind a grooving rhythm section. If the whole record maintained this conviction, this review would be much more positive, but the next track is another unfortunate skipper.
In a recent interview, Duffy said she did not want to be considered as a singer-songwriter because it sounded like something too serious, “too considered.” Well, isn’t it better to be considered too serious than to be not considered at all? At least then we’d know what she was trying to say, the artist she was trying to be.