In today’s competitive musical climate, it would be nigh impossible to predict with confidence that an artist could sell out two UK tours, captivate the summer festival circuit, perform the Euro 2016 BBC theme tune, and be shortlisted for both the British Critic’s Choice Award and BBC Sound of poll before having even released their debut record. Such is the reality, however, for 22-year-old Isobel Beardshaw, better known by her stage name Izzy Bizu, whose LP comes almost three years on the heels of her breakout. The finished product, (understandably) titled A Moment of Madness, is a jazz-infected, modern-throwback album that expertly combines pop commerciality with sentimental soul and nostalgia, angling for the musical space once occupied by Amy Winehouse.
The record’s elated lead single, ‘White Tiger’, is undeniably one of the summer’s catchiest and quirkiest releases. Bizu’s distinctive vocals are complimented perfectly by an infectious clapping back-beat, giving the track a summery skip that is oozing with energy (you’ll find the hook, “white, white tiger, high bright rollercoaster”, stuck in your head for weeks). The relentlessly effervescent tone of the single perfectly personifies much of the first half of the record, from the Motown-inspired stomp of ‘Give Me Love’, to the mischievous and breathless ‘Skinny’, to the Marvin-Gaye-tinged ‘Naïve Soul’ and the Winehouse-eque ‘Adam & Eve’. It’s a record that grips like a vice and refuses to let go until it reaches the closing track, with each melody following the next in a similar impetuous fashion.
While such uncompromising optimism provides cohesion to the musicality of the record, it often comes at the cost of fatigue on part of the listener, significantly detracting from the emotional intensity of the music itself. The tracks themselves never sound less than aesthetically pleasing, but the emotional impact they’re intended to have is consistently flattened by the record’s unceasing and exhausting ebullience and buoyancy. It is for this reason that the few slower jams on the record stand out the most. The wonderful ‘Mad Behaviour’ anchors the latter half of the album, showcasing Bizu in her most emotional, vulnerable and rawest state, as she croons for the support and forgiveness of her lover, “saviour rein me in, don’t mind my mad behaviour.” Its followed by the equally captivating ‘Circles’, a beautiful ballad that demonstrates Bizu’s vast lyrical potential.
With A Moment of Madness, Bizu offers a sonic ambition that very few artists within the contemporary music industry possess. The record is a confident mixture of modern pop, delicious funk and soul, with a new track to indulge yourself in at every turn. It’s a vigorous exploration into Bizu’s various perspectives on life and love, and despite being exhausting and lacking in identity at times, it’s an album that’s difficult not to love.