2009's Hands was an album that had met up against a critical backlash before it had even charted in the top 10 of the UK album charts. As the story went, Victoria Hesketh had made an all out assault on the charts, somewhat turning against the long list of inspirations she had trotted out in interviews.
Perhaps chastened (though I'd suspect not) by the relative failure to conquer the charts (which saw genuine top 5 chart smash Remedy followed up by Earthquake peaking at number 84 in the UK) it seemed as if album number two would be a long time coming, as she seemingly spent most of her time touring the world as a DJ. Indeed it was somewhat of a surprise when Shake, track 4 here, surfaced with little prior warning in late 2011. It was less of a surprise when it turned out to be the kind of disco stomper that Kylie would give her right arm for.
The cliché of record label interference on the "over-produced" debut album may well be a well-worn path but there is also little doubt that taking control over her sound and concentrating on a simplified sonic production (simple in the fact of working with less people, not in terms of the sound itself) has paid off.
Whereas Hands at times seemed like a collection of great singles without a common thread, Nocturnes not only features some cracking singles but actually, shock horror, works as a cohesive album as well. The lady herself has described the album's sound as one of the "night" and it's certainly an album with at least one eye on the dancefloor.
Shake is joined by Satellite and Broken Record on the "head to the dancefloor" side of things whilst the likes of Crescendo and Strangers add a little bit of a a more melancholy air to proceedings and show that as well as the "beats", Little Boots can bring the emotion as well.
Those whose idea of Little Boots is based on Remedy may well struggle to find anything that meets their impressions on Nocturnes. Indeed, it seems like chasing a mega chart hit is a thing of the past for Hesketh and I'm no more going to turn against her for that than I would have agreed with those who suggested her debut was somehow being un-true to her roots simply because some of the songs on there did seem to be aimed squarely at the charts.
If Hands focused on getting the party started and the dance-floor filled at the start of the evening Nocturnes takes us later on into the night, keeping us going with some genuine disco-stompers, taking things down a little slow to let us get our energy back and then sending us out (with album closer Satellite) into the morning sunshine sure that we've had one hell of a night.
After the superb Hands, Little Boots took her time to get back to us, but she's done it again with another rather brilliant album.