Princess Chelsea -Lil’ Golden Book – album review

Princess Chelsea – Lil’ Golden Book (Lil’ Chief Records)
CD / DL
Released 8 October 2012

We take a trip inside the weird and wonderfully melodic world of Princess Chelsea as her debut album prepares for a UK release.

How to make a Princess:

Take generous amounts of Polly Scattergood and Fiona Apple.  Add a sprinkling of Lilly Allen and a pinch of Little Boots to taste.  Include wonderful, enthralling, insightful lyrics, and, voila!  Welcome to Lil’ Golden Book.

I’ve taken rather a shine to the debut album from Princess Chelsea.  I have to be honest. I’ve never heard of her before this, but, I suspect will be hearing much more in the future.

Hailing from New Zealand, she was part of The Brunettes whose ”˜bubble-gum-pop’ was part of the Lil’ Chief Records collective.  She is also part of a Wings tribute band, Disciples Of Macca, but don’t let that put you off.

Chelsea Nikkel is classically trained, and, the evidence is clear for all to see.  Not only that, but, she also tried her hand(s) at the drums, guitar and clarinet.  If that wasn’t enough, she’s also engineered and produced this collection.

Lil’ Golden Book threads the songs together to tell a tale of growing up in New Zealand, with Princess Chelsea being the main character ”“ “Life in New Zealand is pleasant enough, when we turn 22 it’s not violent enough”.  Often funny with a serious twist, her lyrics defy her age.  In fact, she’s more a poet than a lyricist.  For instance, take Too Fast To Live and its honest, if somewhat startling sardonic wit:

Please don’t drink too much
Drinking is bad for your heart and
Your organs they all fell down

Through the hole
That it’s made in your gut

I can’t be the only person who considers this to be brilliant.

Many of the songs have a suburban fairy tale feel.  Music-box soundscapes fused with electronica and orchestral weaves.

Her first song is included here; the quirky Monkey Eats Bananas is a thumping, jungle-beat track that was a huge hit on YouTube.  Go on, look it up.  Another favourite on the www is/was The Cigarette Duet.  A clever little ditty duetted with Jonathan Brea, compares a couple’s opinions on smoking addiction.  Her ”“ “It’s just a cigarette and it cannot be that bad”.  Him ”“ “It’s just a cigarette and it harms your pretty lungs”.

The clockwork sounding merry-go-round of Ice Reign is delightful with its Queen Of Hearts “Off with your head”, and, Goodnight Little Robot Child is a lullaby to a laptop.

Strange? Yes.  Musically enthralling?  Yes.  A brilliant debut?  You’d better believe it.

Her record company describes the album as ”˜the soundtrack to an old Disney movie meets Kraftwerk fronted by Enya in a 60s production of Les Miserables set in space’.  Who am I to argue?

If you like your music a little bit different, I strongly suggest you hear this album.  Me?  I’m off to add it to my Amazon Wish List.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. You can read more from Paul on LTW here.

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  1. I used to listen to On the Wire when I lived in Burnley and Steve Barker did it 20/30 years ago. I loved Husker Du. It was fantastic to hear alternative music of great variety at that time. It looks like you have carried on the tradition. Well done.
    I live in Auckland now and there’s a great scene here, Including other bands on Lil’ Chief records, especially The Eversons from Wellington plus other labels and ‘unsigned’ bands.
    The music at Princess Chelsea gigs is pretty much the same as the CD. Wonderful stuff.

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