Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Trouble | Natalia Kills

Rating: ★★★★☆

Natalia Kills is back with a sophomore album, this time taking a rather different musical approach than she did for her debut album, Perfectionist. However, don't let the pink fonts and abundant roses fool you; the police cars and handcuffs make an appearance on the cover for a reason because, as Kills sings on the album, "that girl is a goddamn problem."

Speaking of "Problem," it was lifted as the lead single to the album in June, but I haven't heard it up until a week or so ago. It was the first song I heard by Kills and instantly made me want to hear more from this girl. The track is fueled by pounding bass, electric guitars, and Kills' sassy voice. The song's lyrics paint a picture of a bad-ass, misguided girl and her misfortunes, a theme that remains consistent with the rest of the album.

I'm pretty sure that this bad girl image isn't just a mere mirage. A great number of lyrics from many of the album's tracks are centered around domestic disputes and problems within the family, with many of those lines being aimed at Kills' father. One of the most upfront songs, "Daddy's Girl," portrays her father as a rich man that "messed up bad," yet she proclaims her devotion to her father by singing "I'll keep your secrets, I'll never tell / You know I'll ride with you right through the fire of hell." To be short, her daddy issues come to the surface during the album, which makes the album feel more personal from Kills' end.

She really drives the point home with "Saturday Night" and explicitly spells out what went on in her childhood home. In terms of sound, it's not my favorite, but the lyrics are some of the best on the album; they hit you right were at hurts. The song opens up with one of the most assertive lines: "Mama, you’re beautiful tonight / Movie star hair and that black eye / You can’t even notice it when you smile so hard through a heartfelt lie" and the song continues to escalate on to others like "I wrote him a hundred times / Can you hear my heart through the prison bars?" and "There’s a rainbow on the bathroom door again / Where the lipstick slides and the pearls all fly." Pretty strong stuff, eh?

Two of my other favorite tracks from Trouble are "Devils Don't Fly" and the title track. The former track have some more really deep lyrics and an average-paced yet killer chorus. One of my favorite lines of lyrics comes from "Devils Don't Fly," as Kills says "What's a girl to do when she's not strong? / When everyone that holds my hand gets cut from all the thorns?" Meanwhile, 'Trouble" is also mid-tempo, but its lyrics closely parallel those of "Problem." The song acts as the album finale and it does a great job at reflecting on the whole album, which obviously gave Kills good reason to name the entire album after the song.

I would also like to place some attention on the track "Rabbit Hole," which immediately stuck out when I first listened through the samples of Trouble. The song is like a modern-day remake of an old Gwen Stefani song; Kills' voice seems to mocking Stefani's unique vocal style and the pounding drums and horns could have easily been sampled out of "Hollaback Girl." This is one of the most sex-oriented songs on the album,  a fact that becomes increasingly evident when Kills spirals into "We're gonna (uh) like rabbits, (uh) like rabbits, (uh) rabbits (hmmm)." As I'm sure everyone could imagine, the verse is repeated multiple times and contains much more moaning than I can place in text.

Overall, the slower and darker sound has really worked for Kills; her voice just seemed to fit perfectly in all of the tracks on Trouble. Producers Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker knew what they were doing with this album, but a few elements may sound awfully familiar. In both "Problem" and "Trouble," altered wails and screams can be heard, which are identical to those found in many of the songs on Lana Del Rey's Born To Die. It may sound nice, but I don't know if I should call this an attempt to reproduce the same sound as Born To Die or rather Haynie simply proving his presence in the song.

Although not the best album I've ever heard, Trouble has to be one of the most cohesive albums I've heard since Florence + The Machine's Ceremonials. All of the songs follow one direct theme, carry a similar sound, and come together to create one monstrous piece rather than just being a bunch of tracks thrown onto one disc. I can already tell that I'm going to be listening to this album on repeat for weeks, and I'm hoping that more people find out about it soon because I'm sure everyone else will be just as impressed as I am with it.

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