2011 hailed Natalia Kills the next Lady Gaga, with ‘Mirrors‘ not exactly helping that comparison. She stomps into her sophomore album Trouble with a lot more to say, definitely separating herself further apart from that tiresome association.
Kills’ dÃ©but, Perfectionist, made itself easy to love; it was slick, dark and radio friendly. Trouble plays like a horrific cartoon, the equivalent of Snow White receiving a mouthful of liquorice rather than a fulfilling apple – it’s a bittersweet head-fuck that you feel good about sinking your teeth into.
The intro of ‘Television’ sets Trouble up somewhat as a concept album. Darkness spirals through the intro only to be dropped straight into the middle of the commotion when the songs takes on this sinister Disney-esque theme. Filled with angst-riddled lyrics and bratty chords, it’s pretty obvious what you’re going to get with this album.
The singles typically stand out as the best tracks. ‘Problem’ is a grungy, rock-shattering track – angry and hard, declaring Kills as a girl to be taken seriously. This is made clear throughout the majority of the album, especially as you approach her artistically, pulling out lyrics that dip into themes dealing with her troublesome childhood. She is definitely digging deep into the diaries of her youth for a number of the tracks.
‘Saturday Night’ is central to this with the shocking opening, ‘Mama, you’re beautiful tonight / Movie star hair and that black eye / Can’t even notice it when you smile so hard through a heart-felt lie’ – it’s like ‘Family Portrait‘ all over again, but makes for brilliant, confessional writing material. This is something to be admired of Kills.
The music is also poised to the aesthetic side of things. A few of the tracks are crafted to crackle like vinyl and stutter like a scratched up CD. ‘Outta Time‘ is an indication of Kills’ musicality. Whilst her vocals throughout the album are often weak, focussed on the overall appeal rather than a more classic vision of talent, ‘Outta Time’ comes at just the right time. It’s refined and soulful, almost cleansing.
Perfection is not on the agenda for Kills this time around, ditching glossy production in favour of moans, snarls and distortion. Trouble is certainly an evolution from Perfectionist, with songs such as ‘Controversy‘ and ‘Rabbit Hole’ as provocative and brazen as her dÃ©but, yet letting the production slip a little in favour of heavier, rockier chaos. The latter song is outrageous as it is bubblegum, like a Gwen Stefani solo-track on acid. It’s twerk-ready and pumped with attitude.
Kills takes on different characters on the album, even sounding like Lana Del Rey in places. ‘Watching You’ and particularly ‘Marlboro Lights’ are sweeping ballads intent on broadening her sound. It doesn’t work too well in these two cases, but are a good place to start for album three. What is new is that Kills has toned down her love for material things and is singing something with a bit of meaning behind it.
As it stands, Natalia kills remains largely unknown and underrated; astonishing considering the quality of her two albums. She’s definitely some sort of anti-princess of pop. [tweetable alt=”‘Her largely biographical approach to ‘Trouble’ will establish her as an artist’: Sam rates @NataliaKills’ new album.”]Her largely biographical approach to Trouble will establish her as an artist[/tweetable] worth taking some time over in years to come.
Standout tracks: ‘Problem’ / ‘Saturday Night’ / ‘Outta Time’ / ‘Rabbit Hole’