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May 9, 2011 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Princess Chelsea – Lil’ Golden Book

This is Aucklander Chelsea Nikkel’s debut release, after playing sporadic live shows as Princess Chelsea for a few years. It’s released through independent label Lil’ Chief, run by Brunette Jonathan Bree, who’ve recently put out bands like Pikachunes and Little Pictures. This falls squarely into the pop category, maybe twee, or maybe carving out something a little more special: cartoon pop.

Princess Chelsea has developed a persona as a slightly evil and certainly demanding ruler, with the album resembling one of those little Disney picture books, and songs such as ‘Ice Reign’. Not that the princess would ever care, but the extended make-believe could verge on gimmicky, if it wasn’t for the less artificial personality that shows itself when Chelsea seems to be looking the other way. There’s lots of glockenspiels and straightforward beats which make some songs ‘one listen only’, but there’s also moments of refreshing honesty.

Chelsea’s distinctive sound is a kind of sinister circus, relying mainly on keyboards and the tinkly glockenspiels. It benefits from this level of production, otherwise it can all sound a bit thin. It also benefits from recording; as a solo project, the songs can all sound very samey live, and being able to hear the words is a bonus. I love the straightforward New Zealand accents, they add so much to any album. The sound hits 60s girl group ballad (‘Too Fast to Live’) as well as a sweeter kind of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (‘Yulia’).

I imagine this album won’t win over anyone who can’t stomach a good dose of cute in their diet, but for those who have the digestive system to take it, there’s something worth listening for. The two songs that made it to my ears before the album was released, ‘Ice Reign’ and ‘Monkey Eats Bananas’, wouldn’t be my picks. I think the gems are the more personal songs, like ‘Cigarette Duet’. There are lyrical moments where the pretense is broken and Chelsea seems real. The ice princess hasn’t quite gone, but she’s taken off her crown and she’s suddenly a bit more approachable.


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  1. Ladainian says:

    Damn, I wish I could think of soemhting smart like that!

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