Kelsey Lu - Blood

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I discovered this last week, and it has already become one of my favourite albums of the year. It seems like such an archetypal 2019 release that I have thought about it even when I'm not thinking about the music per se (which I also think about a lot). In terms of strict musical resemblances the closest I could come up with was three parts Susanne Sundfor's Ten Love Songs to one part Abra's Rose - the mixture of ornate pseudo-folk with allusions to a kind of hyper-composed R&B of varying degrees of solidity (a faint whisper for opener "Rebel", fully dominant on "Foreign Car"). The mixture seems pretty intuitive, perhaps because the archetypal music of our times is the chill beats playlist - nothing on this album fully inhabits that space, but you could pivot to any of them from there quite easily (Kelsey basically gives the game away with a very faithful cover of "I'm Not In Love").

That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but really this is lovely, gorgeously produced and arranged, and somehow managing to be formalist and loose at the same time, Kelsey's sense of the theatrical and the natural wending around each other - though the darker dramatic tunes like "Why Knock For You" are reaching faintly for a kind of murder ballad vibe which was always about theatrical naturalism anyway. In this - and perhaps even more so in the mixture of tentative pop signalling on tunes like "Due West" (a skrillex collabo apparently) or the high camp disco of "Poor Fake" - I'm reminded somewhat of the first Fiona Apple album (though Kelsey's voice and songwriting don't really track Fiona's even as much as Billie Eilish's does. A closer fit would be Alison Goldfrapp circa Tales of Us). Or maybe I want to compare this to Fiona because there's something kind of late nineties about the whole concept, in the way that 2019 more broadly is kind of late nineties.

It's also a very ILX record! You should listen to it.

Tim F, Sunday, 4 August 2019 23:17 (four months ago) link

love this

breastcrawl, Monday, 5 August 2019 02:59 (four months ago) link

i'm obsessed with "due west", but need spend more time with the rest of it

monotony, Monday, 5 August 2019 03:46 (four months ago) link

i think I'm subconsciously waiting for the fall to feel it in full, but "Due West" and definitely "I'm Not In Love" have been some of my favorite songs during these sunnier months. i am a big fan of her EP Church, though!

josh winters (josh), Monday, 5 August 2019 04:24 (four months ago) link

haha it's winter here so I don't really have that problem

Tim F, Monday, 5 August 2019 04:41 (four months ago) link

Interesting. Kind of overpoised and chamberpop-ish for my usual tastes but I’m going to spend some time w this & see what unwinds

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Monday, 5 August 2019 06:52 (four months ago) link

Interesting. Kind of overpoised and chamberpop-ish for my usual tastes but I’m going to spend some time w this & see what unwinds

ILX’s bad boy (D-40), Monday, 5 August 2019 06:52 (four months ago) link

Gorgeous album, it's precocious as hell but in the best possible way. Like, the "could this be? A forgereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!" bit in 'Poor Fake' is totally ridiculous but also the most fun moment on the album.

Matt DC, Monday, 5 August 2019 08:58 (four months ago) link

Haha yes.

Tim F, Monday, 5 August 2019 09:01 (four months ago) link

That spoken word bit is so “art school taylor swift”

Tim F, Monday, 5 August 2019 09:03 (four months ago) link

“inspection is key”

Tim F, Monday, 5 August 2019 09:06 (four months ago) link

that section is soooo ridiculous but i love it

ufo, Monday, 5 August 2019 09:42 (four months ago) link

i really like this album, it's very well produced - every sound is so gorgeous. it does fall off a little bit at the end though - "atlantic" and "blood" are still nice but a little more abstract than the rest of the album, and "down2ride" does nothing for me

ufo, Monday, 5 August 2019 09:52 (four months ago) link

Very brief thread from earlier in the year

Kelsey Lu

This might be AOY for me. So much room on the inside the album, trying different styles without clashing. "Poor Fake" is the apogee for me - she's performing her own disco string section, goes cosmic with it, yet breaks out the camp with breaking the mood.

"Due West" is the most explicit, but I sense a reoccurring theme of "East Coast person figuring out West Coast culture", and I really like how she investigates. Debut record was cello arrangements in a Brooklyn church, which is about as East Coast art as you can get. The album sounds so great, like a lot of Columbia Records studio resources were put at her disposal, and she knew exactly how to use them.

bendy, Monday, 5 August 2019 15:59 (four months ago) link

without breaking the mood

bendy, Monday, 5 August 2019 16:30 (four months ago) link

Ah sorry, I searched for posts mentioning Kelsey and that didn’t come up (I assume because her name was only in the thread title).

Tim F, Monday, 5 August 2019 17:36 (four months ago) link

three weeks pass...

a lot of the melodic turns on this record remind me of rufus wainwright, particularly "rebel"

this is a really well-structured album, i love that it gradually builds up to and recedes from "poor fake"

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 15:41 (three months ago) link

"due west" is an amazing soundworld, kudos skrillex

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 15:43 (three months ago) link

read in a billboard interview that she had written a melody for "why knock for you" but then reversed it, which explains why her voice has that dark subterranean pull to it throughout

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 15:50 (three months ago) link

Started by Tim F in August 2019, last updated thirty-seven minutes ago by american bradass (BradNelson)

queued up

k3vin k., Tuesday, 27 August 2019 16:29 (three months ago) link

report back k3vin!

Tim F, Wednesday, 28 August 2019 00:02 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

Just stumbled across this album, knew that ILM would be into it. Strongly feel the Sundfor comparison, there's a combination of poise and absolute ~drama~ that sets Blood apart from the rest of the post-Solange/pretentious R&B thread crowd.

Also, this:

Gorgeous album, it's precocious as hell but in the best possible way. Like, the "could this be? A forgereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!" bit in 'Poor Fake' is totally ridiculous but also the most fun moment on the album.

― Matt DC, Monday, 5 August 2019 08:58 (two months ago) bookmarkflaglink

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 25 October 2019 23:56 (one month ago) link

forgereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee = this year's microwave ping

britain's secret sauce (seandalai), Friday, 25 October 2019 23:57 (one month ago) link

I need to go back to this w/ fresh ears. The one song I really got into was ‘why knock for you’, that keening voice calling through turbid waters kind of reminded me of hugo largo songs like ‘scream tall’

the creator has a mazda van (NickB), Saturday, 26 October 2019 10:08 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

Weirdly uninvolving live show in London last week. She's an excellent singer and dancer but performed largely in dry ice with very little lighting onstage so it felt impossible to connect with properly.

Very apparent as well that she didn't have the stage budget or number of musicians to pull the songs off properly either, and this is an album that isn't well suited to minimal interpretations, especially when you can't see the performers properly.

Matt DC, Saturday, 16 November 2019 12:04 (three weeks ago) link


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