ELLIE Goulding’s Lights is of the most anticipated albums of the year. But, inexplicably, even before the album was released this week, Goulding had topped the BBC Sound of 2010 award and won the Critic Choice Award at the BRITS.

To win awards before anyone has heard one’s work seems very previous, especially for a 23 year old. There will be many wishing to knock her down, even before she’s sung a note.

Fortunately, Lights is a solid and polished debut of ten balanced and radio-friendly songs. But does it really live up to the hype?

Well, those who would prefer a sweeter, less controversial version of Lily Allen or an electrified techno version of Katie Melua may think so. Goulding does not have the biggest or most expressive voice, but she sings sweetly and does have a decent catalogue to peddle.

Amy MacDonald’s debut from 2007 was such a big hit that she now returns to the public arena as an established act. Yet MacDonald is eight months younger than her applauded new rival, Ellie Goulding.

A Curious Thing is very similar in feel and approach to its predecessor and should appeal to those who enjoyed This Is The Life. MacDonald’s material has an earthy rock edge comparable to Travis, Keane and The Killers. MacDonald should have no worries that the album’s single Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over will prove prophetic about her musical career.

• Ellie Goulding plays Cockpit, Leeds on April 1 and Fibbers, York, on April 11; Amy MacDonald plays Leeds O2 Academy on March 31.