by Tirhakah Love (@GoonTherapy)
Helen Dooley aka The Cheek of Her (TCOH) is a bubbling songstress from the UK whose quippy heartbreak music is filled with veracity. Gaining popularity across the pond, TCOH has received immense coverage in Romania, Ireland, and Switzerland, in addition to being featured on Alex Lester’s BBC Radio 2 station. Her new EP, “Black Heart Mantra” is an aggressive and eccentric record but cannot overcome the writing shortcomings and formulaic approach to pop.
“Black Heart Mantra” sounds raw — TCOH’s alto is a flat cruise that fits squarely within, guitarist and producer, Sean Kennedy’s canvas. Her single, “9 Lives” is an invested recollection of a failed relationship, that, perhaps, “in other life” the songwriter would’ve worked harder to maintain. Though TCOH’s vocals are impressive enough, the writing here is subpar as she stretches to fit word within a melody. Word economy is so crucial to storytelling in pop music. Dooley’s vocals contain character — her shrill on “Ghost” is a lively acoustic wa il– but she lacks the dynamism of an artist like Fiona Apple or the eccentricity of Lily Allen. She could be most comparable to Amanda Palmer considering her penchant for grit, but Palmer is just a bit more developed than Dooley.
“Black Heart Mantra” is a quick 5-song EP that gives audiences a glimpse into TCOH’s budding potential. TCOH’s tone is focused but her lack of real melodic awareness holds this record back.