Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kelis 'Flesh Tone' Album Preview

Track by track preview via Showing Out

With ominous electronic wretches, the album intro casually begins with groggy synths that kick into a mid-tempo groove. Kelis soon enters the fold with her icy coos, singing about a lover who’s stolen her heart. “You draw me in / Every time I think I’m free you win / Just like a sin / When I know it’s wrong, but still begin,” she crows over pattering drum beats. “It’s you / I can’t run, I can’t run to you / It’s true / I give up, I give up on you.” The intro plays for a solid three-and-a-half minutes before Kelis’ digitized voice disaffectedly states, “We control the dance floor,” segueing into the next track.

22nd Century (prod. by Freeschool)
One of the few songs that leaked from the project ahead of its intended release, “22nd Century” is a future-disco track based on hypnotic repetition, driven by subtle harmonic flourishes and a buzzing drone that shadows Kelis’ alto voice. “Welcome to the 22nd century / Everybody’s dancing / ‘Cause we are the stars,” she sings, lost in the electronic whirl. Just after the track culminates with a synthetic climax, “22nd Century” flips into an ’80s-esque denouement complete with throbbing percussion and tinny piano chords, melding into the subsequent track.

4th of July (Fireworks) (prod. by DJ Ammo)
The piano chords are chopped into a cut-and-paste mosaic driven by a steady club rhythm, with Kelis singing to a lover about how, in spite of thinking she was better off alone, she actually can’t get enough of her man. The track is a little more musically aggressive than the rest of the tracks on the album, tailored more towards the dance floor than most other cuts. Like the rest of the tracks on Flesh Tone, “4th of July” boasts another segue at its tail end, melting into “Home” with a strobe-like mosaic of synthesizers.

“Your love is blinding / I’m already home / The lights are shining / I’m already home,” Kelis sings at the beginning of this aurally appetizing number. Again, she sings about being intoxicated by a romantic interest while mingling with the thumping, trance-inspired track. “I can be a mess / I’m reckless and it shows / But with you I close my eyes and let you take control.” Pitch-correction never sounded so good. “Home” turns into something more sinister at its completion before fading with the sound of a thwacking gong.

Acapella (prod. by David Guetta)
The album’s lead single. If you haven’t yet heard it and don’t know what you’re in for on this release, head over to watch the video here and get acquainted with this blistery dance track.

Scream (prod. by David Guetta)
This one is guaranteed to cut up the club. Beginning with a relatively bare (at least by the album’s standards) melody, “Scream” starts with Kelis singing, “Been running in place for such a long time / Stuck in a race in the wrong line / When it all came down on me,” adding, “And I haven’t had faith in such a long time” before the track bursts into a glitterbomb of whistling synths. Soon, one of the album’s high points arrives, with Kelis doing her best impersonation of “Vogue” as she disconnectedly chants:
“You’ll ne-ver know / If you don’t let it out / You have enough / They’ll call your bluff / You can’t back down, lost in a crowd / You’ve won the right to scream and shout / They’ll talk about you’ve lost your cool / There is no point, who makes the rules? / So let’s get to it / Now you’ll do it / Break out / Scream and shout.”
The track continues with a few more singing moments and another “Vogue”-like patch before giving way to “Emancipate” with the sonic bending of an atonal siren.

Naked piano chords ring in “Emanicpate” before Kelis states, “Let me tell you what love is / It’s when you meet each other halfway” over jabbing synthesizers. A little on the repetitive side, “Emancipate” is a feel-good anthem, with Kelis encouraging listeners to let life’s woes roll off their shoulders. “Look in your own mirror and know who you are / Live your life accordingly, the troubles on your arm / And it’s good baby / You’ve done good baby,” she sings, chanting on the chorus, “Emancipate yourself!” The track ends with a mechanical, punching assortment of discordant drums and buzzes that finish off with a ringing melody line.

A shiny bassline set the tone for “Brave,” where Kelis sings in a digitized tone about what could easily be interpreted as a reference to her marriage to Nas. “I’m not ashamed of winning / But it wasn’t that way in the beginning / It was this way, it was kiss me / Come kick me, and diss me / I had to give it up / Now it’s away, a different a feeling / You took my soul, I had to steal it back,” she sings on this electroclash number, which plays like a rain-streaked version of a Ratatat composition. This is her perseverance anthem, singing at the end, “Now I’m super strong!”

Song for the Baby
Undoubtedly the brightest song on the album, “Song for the Baby” is dedicated to none other than her newborn baby Knight, who can be seen clinging to her back at the end of the video for “Acapella.” Trumpet blares punctuate a muffled piano line before launching into a sprightly club banger, with Kelis singing, “So I’m writing this letter to you baby / Just like my mother told me / She always said say yes before you say no and say maybe / See, I’ll never sugarcoat any life lessons for you / ‘Cause I want to make you equipped for the best.” “I’ll love you more than you’ll ever know,” she warmly coos on the chorus. “With you, love never dies.” Endearing and optimistic, “Song for the Baby” is unabashedly honest and heartwarming.

Carefree American (Bonus)
Powered by acoustic guitars and 808 handclaps, Kelis gets sardonically patriotic on this bonus track, on which she sings, “Ahh / I’m just a carefree American / Big house, big cars.” Kind of a crowded track, “Carefree American” thrives off of twinkling sound effects, popping snares and a burning bass, with Kelis encouraging listeners to “Take a load off / Watch some TV / Enjoy cable / I think it’s for free / She wants to have everything.” Cheeky lyrics aside, the song is a perfect candidate for a summertime anthem.

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