A rookie in the studio? Don’t be deterred.
What a thrill it must be to have a quality debut studio album! Such a feeling is shared by Kelela, the singer/songwriter who made waves with her mixtape and EP. Her new album, Take Me Apart, is a fantastic effort and a beautiful addition to an already R&B-strong year.
Like Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. or The Weeknd’s Starboy, every track is solid and recommendable to a friend. Given this, the shortest track standout is the penultimate song, “Bluff.” Unlike some short (1:12 in length, in this case) songs, this one does not strongly beckon to be longer (all eyes on “Frank’s Track” from TLOP). There are two shorter tracks (just over two minutes) that almost give the full desired taste of the song, “Jupiter” and “S.O.S,” the former demanding an extra minute even more than the latter.
A very enjoyable and intelligent (on the part of Kelela and her songwriters) trend throughout many of these tunes is a captivating intro. “Frontline” and “Enough” have rather spacey beginnings, which help give shape to the torment in the singer’s head. Tracks like “Jupiter” and “LMK” use uniquely tasty synth sounds to turn heads, and “Truth or Dare” offers some minimalist-Kaytranada-sounding grooves to keep heads a-bobbing. “Turn to Dust” utilizes strings to extend a very emotional track into the most melancholy number on the album. However, perhaps the best intro is the most simple, such as the repeated, rich major seventh chord in “SOS.”
Kelela shares her darker, lonelier thoughts and worries with us so beautifully through her voice alone, but each song is augmented by excellent production, thanks to the work of Jam City, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Kwes (as well as a few others).
The mxdwn award for catchiest number goes to “LMK,” with “Onanon” running up behind. The spot for best display of talent/vocal work goes to the closer, “Altadena,” although it does not prove itself to be the most deserving of the final track slot. Nevertheless, this album delivers, and will find itself on repeat, especially on these breezy fall nights.