The Great Cybernetic Depression
Okay, time to make my mind up on Princess Chelsea – I’ve (previously) never been all that sure. I liked The Brunettes, their twee-legacy not always so much. But goddamn if The Great Cybernetic Depression isn’t a fantastic pop album – full of charming foibles, watery treatments and thin-stretched vocals; it shouldn’t work but it most certainly does.
There’s shimmering sharpness and smug, treacly aspects and it all sounds pretty wonderful really. The ‘gimmick’ so lived in now as to not actually seem like any gimmick, the vapid, water-colour world of pop music sometimes gets me down but when it’s done right it’s a magical place. And that’s what we have here, slow-burning anthems like Too Many People, the candy-coloured torch-balladry of We Are Very Happy, it’s all stuff I can’t relate to it all – the self-obsessed character/s in these songs would drive me nuts in real life, I’d want to run them over or just swerve at the last minute. Actually I’d hope we were always on different roads, going down different paths but, perhaps very oddly, I wouldn’t mind the same soundtrack.
Chelsea Nikkel’s music is quite possibly still all an act. But if so it’s insular enough to also exist as outpouring from her psyche; something true that’s just been coloured in the right pastel hue, the right tone of pastiche.
The dreamy swirl of keys and guitars that winds to an end as We Were Meant 2 B circles over and again is like a crayon drawing of prog-rock – and possibly almost goes too far on the duet, We Are Strangers. Torch balladry with only a cell-phone app to light it.
But that doesn’t matter because the opener, When The World Turns Grey, is one of the best songs by anyone ever. And Is It All Ok? is far better than just okay…these are mercurial, wistful, dirge-like fantasy-world pop with just the right detachment.
Nikkel and Jonathan Bree are making music – together and alone – that exists in its own time and space, so obviously influenced by classic pop, and yet so overtly singular.
No Church on Sunday is the sound of someone’s cake being left out in the rain.
I’ve no real understanding why I like this. And that is why I like this.