While Kelela’s lyrics have often grounded her work in familiar R&B territory – love, loss, and everything that comes with it – her music has always tried to push the boundaries of what the genre is capable of. She teamed up with a number of underground dance producers on her mixtape ‘Cut 4 Me’ and on her upcoming debut album ‘Take Me Apart’ she’s recruited Kingdom and Arca among others. The LP’s lead track ‘LMK’ saw her teaming up with Jam City, and the effect was a club-ready banger that harboured an off-kilter, darker heart in the form of its constantly reverberating, distinctive twang.
For new track ‘Frontline’, she’s once again teamed up with Jam City, but the results are a little different. They draw in trap-inspired beats and dense percussion as a foundation for Kelela to sing about ditching her good-for-nothing lover, while the glacial synths that at first seem delicate and ambient soon intermingle enough to become a strident barrage of electronica. Across its five and a half minutes, there’s never a dull moment: the melodies are dynamic and shapeshifting, and Kelela’s voice is equally malleable, providing enough variation in tone to make you sit up and listen to every word she says.
On that note, she complains that “you’re fucking with my groove” but really, when it comes to her music, no one can fuck with Kelela’s groove at all. She always seems fully in control of her own musical destiny, and ‘Frontline’ just proves that further.