Genderqueer, gay and of Jewish descent, Mikaela Straus has been demonstrating the complexity of identity ever since she chose the moniker King Princess. Her personal brand of kiss-off pop is as relatable as it glossily distant, appearing as if out of nowhere in early 2018.
Arriving in her 20th year, King Princess’s debut speaks strongly to the dichotomies of modern existence. She is at once ’50s pop purveyor (‘Homegirl’) and jealous emo string-plucker (‘Watching My Phone’), with no attempts to hide her own flaws or fears. In ‘You Destroyed My Heart’ she label herself “a better fag, and you’re an amateur”. It’s willfully provocative, and it’s no surprise that it’s her favourite line on the record, delivered with sassy panache.
Much like Lorde’s ‘Pure Heroine’ before it, ‘Cheap Queen’ possesses the perfect amount of devil-may-care attitude to counter the heaviness with which it feels its emotions. Whimsical ‘Useless Phrases’ uses cutesy lift music to lay the groundwork for ‘Ain’t Together’’s rejection of relationship labels, while ‘Do You Wanna See Me Crying’ is lush, hip R&B, a brief dash of glitter on the pillow amongst floods of teary kohl. ‘I’m so bad with attention” she laments on ’Tough On Myself’, her Brooklyn accent lounging against the sparse musical furniture. She better start getting used to it - it’s about to arrive in spades.