Jessie J - Who You Are (3.5/5). British pop's latest newcomer Jessie J deliverers her much-anticipated debut album, Who You Are, following her triumph on the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll and the release of her boisterous, electro-guitar studded, slang-drenched lead single "Do it Like a Dude," which should have been an indication to the rugged, unyielding pop I thought Jessie would pursue on here--then came the more laid back, Caribbean flavored "Price Tag" which threw that notion out of the window, and suggested that this would be more of a mixed bag of various different approaches to pop--which is exactly what it is. You have the drum-heavy, melody-strung, mid-2000s R&B of "Abracadabra," the sweet soulful balladry of "Casualty of Love," the beat-driven hip-hop influenced sounds of "Rainbow" and "Who's Laughing Now." The old-fashioned, high-octane, horn-showcasing "Mama Knows Best" reminds me a lot of something Christina Aguilera would do--Jessie's vocal acrobatics on here, definitely re-calls that of Aguilera's. Then of course you have the obligatory piano, strings and drums ("I Need This") or piano, strings and guitars ("Who You Are") ballads. Often cited as the UK's answer to Lady Gaga--on here Jessie J sounds more a mix between Natasha Bedingfield and Pixie Lott--only yet to discover a distinctive sound of her own, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, that's what the second albums for. Best: Do it Like a Dude, Price Tag, Casualty of Love, Mama Knows Best, Rainbow, I Need This, Nobody's Perfect.
Nicole Scherzinger - Killer Love (3/5). Following several failed attepts to launch a solo career away from the Pussycat Dolls, It seems Nicole Scherzinger has finally found a sound that works for her, unlike the diffusing guitar-pop of "Baby Love," Scherzinger re-launched her career with the high-energy pop of "Poison" following it up with the just as bold "Don't Hold Your Breath." However, similar to Jessie J, Scherzinger's debut doesn't seem to have a distinctive direction of sound, also making it sound like a mixed bag of different sounds--almost like throwing muck (or sounds) at the wall to see how much of it sticks, but when she's on point, it really works, such as the high-powered pop of title track "Killer Love," the pulsating, synth-driven pop of "Wet" and the aptly titled "Club Banger Nation." Scherzinger also shows that subtlety is one of her strengths too, particularly on the impassioned, guitar-backed mid-tempo "Desperate" and the rather dramatic piano balladry of "AmenJena." But where the banal light R&B of "You Will Be Loved" and plodding collaboration with Sting on "Power's Out" are concerned--they just lead a string of duds wedged in between the albums biggest highlights. Best: Don't Hold Your Breath, Poison, Killer Love, Wet, Desperate