Natalia Kills – Trouble: Album Review

September 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

nataliakills-trouble

Back in 2011, British import Natalia Kills made her American debut with her first album – Perfectionist. Layered under sharp synths and storytelling lyrics, the album showcased the rise of pop’s new dark chanteuse with songs like “Wonderland” & “Kill My Boyfriend.” Unfortunately, the album was not distinguishable enough for Kills to set herself apart from the Britneys, Rihannas and Lady Gagas. Fast forward to 2013 with the singer’s sophomore effort Trouble (released on September 10) – which shows a more confident and focused artists, all while maintaining that dark edge that we all love.

With its heartfelt lyrics and booming production (thanks to Jeff Bhasker), Trouble could be the soundtrack to any 1985 Coming-Of-Age, teenage angst film.  The distorted opening track, “Television,” sets the tone with its dramatic, soap opera-esque police sirens. It is the first insight into her musical diaries which is juxtaposed by foot-stomping, ’80’s-inspired production: “Nicotine and low life dreams have never felt so warm/When your father’s on the bottle & your mother’s on the floor.” 

The following track “Stop Me” is a bit of a drag and maybe too try-hard. The cliché lyrics like “I put my high heels on so I’m closer to God” doesn’t help either. But what saves the tune is the chilling production – complete with faint coos in the background. “Problem”, the first single off the album, is bad-ass, glam metal & garage rock inspired and completely grimy. It is a bad girl anthem in the making, with sultry lyrics like “Don’t you wanna claim my body like a vandal?”

“Boys Don’t Cry” continues the dazed & confused, wide-eyed musical nostalgia. The soulful song opens with another distorted rocker riff and ends with a super-kitcshy speech. It has a ’60’s pop girl-group vibe, perfect for summertime cruising with the top down.

The peak of Trouble occurs when the most vulnerable track turns on. “Saturday Night” is arguably her best and most honest song of Kills’ career. One can hear her jilted pain throughout the track, which is backed by a swooping production. Kills opens up like never before, tearfully singing “Momma you’re beautiful tonight/ Movie star hair and that black eye” and “Pills fall like diamonds from my purse/ Right out the hole in my fur coat/ Straight down the gutter goes my antidote to a broken girl”,

“Outta Time” is another completely adorable ’60’s-inspired ditty. It’s a shimmering and light tune that’s plays just like the sunset at the end of summer. The song is very California beach vintage. “Rabbit Hole” – one of the album’s few uptempos – is very explicit and has an air of Perfectionist cheekiness. It shows off the singer’s famous “wild child” persona: “Chemistry, biology, As long as he’s on top of me/ The classroom or the bathroom/ We gonna practice till we graduate”

“Controversy,” is an unexpectedly political track that was the first insight to Trouble when it was released last September. It grumbles off a list of controversial themes:

Cheerleaders, wet panties,
Drug dealers, porn addicts,
Underage, under paid,
Fucking for a Mac Donald’s
Narcotic, don’t stop it,
All the girls are friends with Molly
Dilated, X-rated
Pageant princess puking rainbows

The singer begs you to answer this seemingly simple question: “Drink the kool-aid? Don’t drink the kool-aid?” over a roaring beat.

The album rounds out with the epic title track “Trouble” – a booming mid-tempo that sums up everything the singer wanted to say. Kills confidently professes to listeners “I’m trouble” – period, point blank. Trouble, Natalia Kills’ sophomore album, reads like a sonic biography. It is gritty, raw, and a lot more true to her personality and reality than Perfectionist – which seems so manufactured when paired next to its sophomore sister album.

While it gets a bit repetitive and derivative with its melancholic lyricism and “Woe is me” vibe, Trouble is no doubt a lot more cohesive than her debut. Natalia Kills is still young in the industry, so hopefully she will use this new album as a building block for the rest of her career.

Overall Rating: 3.7/5

Songs On Repeat

“Problem”

“Boys Don’t Cry”

“Saturday Night”

Songs To Skip

“Devils Don’t Fly”

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