Forever is a charm…
There was a point where it looked as if Princess Chelsea was going to call it a day following a fairly gruelling schedule to produce and tour her 2015 album The Great Cybernetic Depression (see TEC review previously). Thankfully, that just meant a period to slow down and recharge the batteries, which resulted in 2019’s excellent The Loneliest Girl album.
The Loneliest Girl provided a breath of fresh air during a fairly tough cultural period. It was also an album that saw Chelsea serving up more reflective moments that acknowledged the passage of time via the wistful ‘Growing Older’. But the album also demonstrated her talent for melodic hooks, lyrical wit and smartly observed commentary on relationships.
Chelsea’s latest album Everything Is Going To Be Alright treads similar territory, albeit with a much more optimistic bent. Previously, Chelsea had referred to the new album as a “nervous breakdown” album inspired, in part, by a fairly difficult personal period for the New Zealand musician. Chelsea has mastered the art of downbeat pop (see ‘When The World Turns Grey’), yet this is an album that offers up a positive, uplifting vibe across its ten tracks. As ever, regular collaborator Jonathan Bree is also on hand to provide his own musical talents to proceedings (including lending his distinctive vocals to ‘Love Is More’).
Considering that there’s still an air of grimness still lurking over our political and cultural landscapes, there’s something refreshing to get an album that focuses on optimism. There’s an old saying that if you find yourself going through hell – keep going. Although at times it’s difficult to see beyond one’s own particular hell, it’s always nice to be reminded that indeed, these things will pass.
Putting the motivational poster homilies aside for a moment, how does Princess Chelsea’s latest record actually stack up? To give a whistle-stop tour, it serves up some amazing melodic delights that dabble in 60s girl grooves, celestial pop and hard-edged rock. Some of the tunes here are among some of the best that Chelsea has served up. That said, there’s a few bumps in the road which makes Everything Is Going To Be Alright an entertaining if uneven affair.
Opener and title track ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright’ trades on familiar Princess Chelsea territory with wistful, downbeat vocals and lyrical musings that are brief, but focus on reassurance. “It’s brave to be in love, sometimes I feel weak” suggests Chelsea, but the song’s title is uttered here as a mantra to hold on to. A brooding bass underpins the whole affair, which in essence is a simple, breezy slice of pop.
‘Love Is More’ embodies a 60s girl group aesthetic and emerges as a euphoric pop delight. Lyrically, it’s an engaging narrative about having a crush and seems to be a thematic partner to ‘We Were Meant 2 B’ from 2015 album The Great Cybernetic Depression. That mood continues on ‘Time’, whose organ-led groove underpins a baroque pop delight. Meanwhile, there’s a wistful quality to the shimmering ‘I Don’t Know You’, which offers up a touching, fragile lyrical reverie (“Wonder why I try, here comes the pain”).
‘Forever Is A Charm’ is a delicate, more nuanced affair (whose pop hooks will also lurk around in your ear for hours afterwards). Chelsea’s vocal melodies are a delight here while her glockenspiel notes are sprinkled across the song like a sugary ice cream topping.
The album’s closing moments include the celestial ‘Dream Warrior’; a slice of cosmic pop layered in washes of echo that harkens back to classic Princess Chelsea. While ‘Everything Is Going To Be Alright (Pt 2)’ is a gentler affair (reminiscent of twee pop superstars Heavenly) with some plaintive guitar which props up Chelsea’s heartfelt vocal (which essentially reinforces the themes and title of the album).
Not everything works on the album, however. ‘The Forest’ is a cathartic rock workout with some muscular percussion. But it’s a lengthy number and relies on an increasingly chaotic lyrical loop. It’s the kind of thing that would work as a closing track, but here it’s sequenced (for some reason) as the second number on the album. There’s also a cover of ‘In Heaven’ (aka the ‘Girl In The Radiator’ song from David Lynch’s classic Eraserhead). In many ways, it’s perfect choice for Chelsea with its ethereal and odd charm. But it seems like it belongs on a different album (specifically, Chelsea’s excellent 2016 covers album Aftertouch).
These are fairly minor quibbles however, given the calibre of the songs on the album as a whole. Regardless, Everything Is Going To Be Alright emerges as not only a necessary album given the current cultural climate, but also as a showcase for the evolving talents of Princess Chelsea as an artist.
Everything Is Going To Be Alright is out now on Lil’ Chief.