Sunday, April 12, 2015

Love Stuff | Elle King


Teenagers today are enamored of the iconic imagery of the past. "I wish I was a teen in 1950s," they tweet, without a thought given to the regression of social issues and civil rights. However, singer-songwriter Elle King is truly trapped in the wrong generation. At a time when hip-hop and synthpop have taken center stage, 25-year-old King has turned back the clock by channeling the likes of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Johnny Cash on her debut album, Love Stuff.

Breakthrough single "Ex's and Oh's" is the quintessential Elle King track, filled with rough-edged vocals, badass attitude, and nostalgia-soaked '80s rock influences. More often than not, she marries classic rock and country for products that bleed red, white, and blue. The foot-stomping "Where the Devil Don't Go" opens the album with rugged production and a sing-along A-B-A-B lyric pattern, and "Last Damn Night" could be blended into classic rock radio rotation without the bat of an eye.

With the grit of Janis Joplin and the grace of Amy Winehouse, King is equipped with a unique set of pipes. She is able to rip into her most intimidating songs without fear, but she can also push the attitude away to reveal a lighter spark to her tone. Her smooth vocal tone, talents as a banjoist, and country tendencies take authority in tracks that are stripped of the hard rock finishing, such as "Kocaine Karolina," "Ain't Gonna Drown," and "Make You Smile."

Elle King borrows from a long list of influences to paint a unique self-portrait of a bold American woman on this debut. As those inattentive teenagers continue to post their admiration for Marilyn Monroe and malt shops on social media sites, King takes matters into her own hands and actualizes her classic rock dreams. Her heart may belong in the heyday of rock and country, but she makes a fine twenty-first century rocker.

Love Stuff is available now under RCA Records.

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