Kelela serves up a soulfully delicious pop-infused dish with a side of harsh truths about the emotional logistics of letting go and the liberating nature of newfound love in her debut project. The Washington-native has been a pioneer in her genre since the 2013 release of her first mixtape, Cut 4 Me. Two years later, the Hallucinogen EP further solidified her position as an innovative songwriter with the sumptuous vocals to match.
Take Me Apart delivers Kelela’s signature retro Janet-esq vocals over techy soundscapes that prove to be future steering. With production from the likes of Bok Bok, Kingdom and Arca, her unapologetically personal first studio album beautifully basks between the complex ebbs and flows of love and love lost. On the Jam City produced titled track, she demands her paramour to explore and unveil the multifaceted vagaries that make her whole. “Don’t say you’re in love baby,” she asserts on the bridge, “don’t say you’re in love until you take me apart.”
The track lends itself as a nod to the album’s overall theme that documents the shit we all go through: break-ups, make-ups and the hook-ups in between. The unyielding confidence, husky sound and staccato style of “Blue Light” touches on the longing for a lustful night in the bedroom with a new love interest. “I’m on my way right now / promise I won’t be long / keep the blue light on.” Her assertive lyrics embody the empowering nature of fulfilling her sexual desires. Contrastingly, the funky yet slow-moving track, “Frontline,” illustrates a different narrative of anguish that stems from the demise of a tormenting relationship. “The secrets I hide, I do nothing / you’ll always deny that we’re going in circles,” she confesses, “but I’ll override / could be winter but I burn inside.”
Take Me Apart embodies the commonalities of sexuality and sultriness, with a pinch of agitated romance delivered in a sound unlike any other. Listen below.