At the forefront of the experiemental RnB scene, Washington DC artist Kelela has released her highly anticipated debut album Take Me Apart, and it’s full of deeply personal messages hidden behind a fierce electronic wall.
At 14 tracks and just under an hour long, Take Me Apart is a huge effort for a debut album, but even more significantly, the highly varied soundscapes stay fresh the whole time. Opening with moody and menacing single ‘Frontline‘, the album rapidly shifts into luscious single ‘Waitin‘ before progressing into the mesmerising title track.
‘Take Me Apart‘ showcases Kelela’s exceptional range of vocal styles, from sweet whispers and honey rich notes to huskier low sections packed with attitude. But the real magic in this track comes from its quirky and intricate production, as it frequently dips into a kaleidoscopic chorus thick with layers of unique sonic textures.
All of the sonic shifts between the 14 tracks are held together by the one unifying theme of human relationships. The whole album is littered with deeply personal truths as Kelela peels back layer after layer of love, hurt, communication and care. Soulful slow-burner ‘Better‘ feels both intimate and easily relatable with lines such as, “Remember I told you that we would be closer if we took some time further apart”.
The personal nature of the album doesn’t sacrifice its ability to get a party started however. Feel good grooves abound in the slick beats and irresistible bass of tracks like ‘LMK‘, ‘Truth Or Dare‘ and ‘Blue Light‘. Having collaborated with a huge list of talent including Arca, Jam City, Kelsey Lu, Terror Danjah, and The xx’s Romy Madley-Croft, it’s no surprise that each track reveals more with every listen.
Take Me Apart is an ambitious collection of bits and pieces borrowed from a huge range of RnB influences, experimental textures and Kelela’s own soul. If you want to hear Kelela’s avant-garde experimentations in the flesh, make sure you check her out when she supports The xx on tour the east coast this January.
Words by Hayley Franklin.