Sometimes you don’t need a magic 8-ball to predict whether an act is going to have career fireworks because their sparkle is evident immediately. Case in point is Lion Babe. Their addictive “Treat Me Like A Fire” rocketed into our music lives and was fascinating for its blend of indie and commercial credentials. On the indie side of things, you had the grooves and pace of electro alternative R&B duo Aluna George and an opening that has a remarkable yet suspicious similarity to Phantogram. Whilst the vocals of Jillian Hervey alternate between the fire of Beyonce, soul of Yukimi Nagano and sexiness of Rihanna.
Further proof of the success prediction (apart from the six million streams) is in their new involvement with hit producer Pharrell Williams for their single “Wonder Woman“. In some ways, the narrative continues on from the female empowerment message on “Treat Me Like Fire” in which Hervey’s relationship availability is accompanied by a igneous warning: “I’m a bit too dangerous”/”But you know not to touch me, cause it might burn“. “Wonder Woman” is just as threatening and cautious and teasingly femme fatale with Hervey acknowledging her popularity but keeping an electric fence around a potential vulnerability both emotionally and physically. “They look at me, I don’t mind. Now it is easy to walk on by ” is followed up with “You don’t wanna see what happens when I get provoked“.
The music video for said song was premiered this week following on from its first play on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show and although Hervey isn’t wearing a superhero outfit and shouting “Hera, give me strength!“, she is fighting for gender equality and shows fighting force with flexed muscle action and kicking moves. We mustn’t forget the associations presented by the duo’s name matched with the characteristics of a lion and how Hervey’s attitude and appearance fits that ideology.
She growls like the animal from the MGM ident at the 24-second mark and sports two styles of hair that could be related a mane, whilst the cavewoman outfit also adds to the nature concept. Vibrant silhouette effects and warm colour scheme depict a lion’s habitat. Even Jillian Hervey’s presence can be strong, Lion Babe are in fact a duo and to make things fair, we get a glimpse of Hervey’s New York campatriot Lucas Goodman, in the same vein that Jules De Martino cameos in Ting Tings videos.
Musically, it will intensify comparisons with Beyoncé especially due to the subtle percussion and mid-tempo vibe that recalls “Work It Out”. In some ways, its contemporary R&B is quite minimal in its impact, yet there is a nice curious bridge with Ray Charles-esque yelling, warped aura and Outkast-backing vocals. Pharrell’s production touch is in the straight line measured beats in the majority of the “Wonder Woman” verse and chorus progression as previously heard in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Yuna’s “Live Your Life”. Although Pharrell also features on the track himself unnecessarily. The song is scheduled to be released on May 3 and Lion Babe will perform at London’s Scala on May 20.