Princess Chelsea (Chelsea Nikkel) has been crafting gorgeous music around her heavily reverbed vocals and pretty synth sounds for the greater part of a decade, her deceptively sugary-sweet songs often concealing a sharper message or truth.
Her 2018 album ‘The Loneliest Girl’ starts off in a similar vein, but quickly develops into new territory, with ‘90s house music making an appearance on the title track, while I Love My Boyfriend pulls on both ‘90s grunge, and ‘60s girl-group sounds. There’s piano balladry too, with Getting Older telling the (potentially autobiographical) story of ageing, a universal theme that resonates.
Moments where ‘The Loneliest Girl’ shines are The Pretty Ones, a string-heavy, noir ballad, and Respect The Labourers, a beautifully mournful, violin-led tribute to workers building the city, which has an interesting saxophone break at the end. Both sound like offshoots of Jonathan Bree’s ‘Sleepwalking’ album, which is fitting, as he played on, and produced (or co-produced) these songs.
While her love of shimmery synth music means Princess Chelsea is often described as whimsical, this description does not take into account her sharp social observations and dry humour, or her abilities as a talented producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. ‘The Loneliest Girl’ is many things; accomplished, icily beautiful, sardonic and tender, but it’s also a point from where Princess Chelsea could move in any musical direction. Highly recommended.