The Singles Party: Nicole Atkins, ‘Girl You Look Amazing’

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Spoiler Alert: We all love Nicole Atkins. She’s one of the most interviewed and photographed musicians on the site, so it was a no-brainer to review her new single “Girl You Look Amazing” for The Singles Party’s 2014 debut. Yet, don’t let our love fool you, there are some very critical views of Ms. Atkins’ latest cut.

Brent Johnson: Nicole Atkins has never really found the kind of audience she deserves. The singer-songwriter from Asbury Park, N.J., was signed to Columbia Records a few years back but dropped after an album. And her sophomore record, made for indie Razor & Tie, never truly took off. But boy, few females in pop have such a powerful, evocative voice. And not many write tunes as melodically vivid. Now, Atkins is releasing her third album, Slow Phaser, independently. And that’s what makes the first single a bit of a surprise. “Girl You Look Amazing” doesn’t sound like an expression of liberation from an artist finally free of record-company nonsense. It almost sounds restrained — a piece of modern disco that’s pleasant enough but not scorching. Then again, it’s got a nice falsetto hook that’ll stay lodged in your head for a few hours. And, of course, it has Atkins’ voice. Let’s just hope the rest of the album has a bit more punch. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

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Lauren Stern: I always beam with pride whenever I listen to a Nicole Atkins song and”Girl You Look Amazing” is no exception. Her voice sounds impeccable here and I couldn’t get enough of the classic undertones. This Jersey girl is a star and I hope the rest of the country/world sees that when her new albums comes out in February. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Nick Porcaro: I adore Nicole Atkins as a singer. Her voice commands, soothes or cries at a moment’s notice. It is a rare instrument of equal amounts power, character and nuance. What a shame, then, that her new single stays well within the increasingly tired trend of straight-laced “vintage” disco. There’s not much to say except this song has very little going for it.

As much as Nicole’s vocal presence and live show entices me, I can’t seem to stick with her music past one or two songs. Wake me when she releases another single as sumptuous as “Maybe Tonight.” Verdict: one and done.

Jason Stives: Upon first hearing the latest from Neptune native Nicole Atkins I was struck by how once more her sound has taken a chameleon-like texture. Having gone very avant garde and more akin to her influences on 2011’s Mondo Amore this came off as a bit of a let down at first. But Atkins always sees a bigger picture and several listens finally got me to warm up to the end result.

Again with her latest, “Girl You Look Amazing,” she is looking at the big picture as she claims that this song came to her in a dream based inside of a big dance club. It definitely has the swagger to boast this vision but as her sound changes once again something feels a bit distant and not as ambitious here. Maybe it’s the rather dull chorus which doesn’t come down to lyrical content as it does the monotone execution.

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There is enough here to ensure a potential great release, returning her to a rather simplistic but still experimental stage in her sound. I am more inclined to like this despite the rather mundane chorus because it has that nice groove that so many seem to get wrong when they throw that word around. The Stones-esque guitar work, a rubbery base line combined with her signature seductive vocals makes this more than catchy and offers enough for me to make it the first Add to the Playlist of the year. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

Kelly O’Dowd: Chrissie Hynde sounds fantastic! I may be living under a rock, it’s quite possible, but I never heard of Nicole Atkins until I heard this song. And now I want to hear more. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to mention how much she sounds like The Pretenders front woman, and to be honest, that’s the reason I stuck with the song. I wanted to see if it was just a fluke or not. And it wasn’t. Considered me hooked. As for the song itself, there’s nothing too exciting, but there doesn’t need to be. I’d listen to this lady sing Craigslist ads. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Jason Kundrath: I would have easily dismissed this bit of lite-disco as bland and irritating if I didn’t know who wrote it. But because it is the latest from the exquisitely talented, Jersey-bred Nicole Atkins, I gave it a few more listens. It still wasn’t working for me. (Learning that the song came to Atkins in a dream where David Byrne was singing it increased its appeal, but only slightly.) Although the song offers several flashes of Atkins’ strengths behind the microphone, there’s an unappealing looseness to the whole affair that seems befitting of its dream-state origins. Here’s hoping the rest of the album was realized and written while she was fully conscious. Verdict: One and done

Bill Bodkin: Nicole Atkins is my favorite female vocalist in music today, bar none. Her voice is so rich, so lush and so intoxicating and her musical choices always keep you on your toes. So, it’s not that much of a surprise that her latest cut, “Girl You Look Amazing” sounds nothing like anything we’ve heard from her earlier works…and that’s a good thing. Yes, I could listen to sing in the style of her most popular record, Neptune City all day long, but I enjoy the fact she changes things up. This track, while not as bombastic or atmosphere as her other singles, is just so damn catchy. It has this understated infectiousness and it’s already on auto-play in my mind after listening to it once. This is a definite must-add song to your playlist and it gets me super-stoked for her new record. Verdict: Add to Playlist.

Final Verdict: Like we said earlier, we love Nicole Atkins. While not everyone is on board with the new song, the majority of us give a big thumbs up for our favorite lady from Neptune City.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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