Katy B On A Mission

While buzz engorges James Blake's minor celebrity into a murky void, British singer Katy B is a more accurate peg on which to hang dub-step's crossover ambition. Club-focused, but clear-eyed, the young singer/songwriter (a BRIT School grad) came up via white label garage, UK funky and house releases before signing with the once-pirate, now-legit crew Rinse. Taking the scattered, tinny, sometimes-aggressive bent of the newly hip genre and warming it up with hypnotic, intricate melodies and R&B vocals isn't easy, nor is flipping it into palatable pop music. But On A Mission (Katy's debut) isn't just trend-baiting dilettantism. Instead, it's a non-reductive, non-essentialist study of UK dance music – from emergent funky to junglist redux – with bar-made accessibility and dashes of (bar-born) honesty. The 12-track record, a truth-y tableau of living in the "rave," was largely produced by Rinse FM founder Geeneus and drum & bass virtuoso DJ Zinc, with an assist from dubstep scion Benga (perfection: the floaty overdrive of lead single "Katy on a Mission") and Magnetic Man ("Easy Please Me" and "Perfect Stranger"). Linked to Katy's teasing, confessional writing style, this collective might means On A Mission is difficult to ignore. Beyond presciently pulsating singles "Broken Record" and "Lights Out" (featuring UK icon Ms. Dynamite), Katy covers wider territory than most electronic excursionists. Standouts include the angular, racing "Power On Me," waist-winding, Latin house-tinged "Why You Always Here" and raga-sampling slowed jam "Go Away." (Columbia)