Princess Chelsea (a.k.a. Chelsea Nikkel) has created an album like a gothic fairground: Lil’ Golden Book evokes spells or fairy tales, the scarier end of Disney, and Edward Scissorhands, mashed together with hints of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Deerhoof, and Dubstar. The release is well-timed for Halloween, frosty and unsettling, full of spaced out synths and numbed vocals.
Songs warn, with deadpan sincerity, of the dangers of drinking too much (‘Too Fast To Live’), smoking (‘Cigarette Duet’), and online trolling (‘Ice Reign’): “start being civil, courteous too, or it will be off with your head”, Nikkel sings, like the Queen of Hearts. ‘Monkey Eats Bananas’ is jaunty and mischievous; ‘Caution Repetitive’ is dull and monochrome in comparison.
Lil’ Golden Book may feel mannered and self-conscious, but is crafted with enough care, full of twists and textures – gunshots, the sound of rain – to give it depth, almost orchestral in its instrumentation. My favourite songs are ‘Yulia’, ‘Too Fast To Live’, and ‘Goodnight Little Robot Child’, which has a tender beauty. The sound is cerebral and dreamy, but often restrained, songs getting stuck in one strict groove or pace; I’d like to hear Princess Chelsea loosen these tight corsets. Still, it’s an intriguing and artful debut, and Tim Burton should snap her up quick to write a musical.
Words: Becky Varley-Winter