Princess Chelsea, New Zealand artist of The Brunettes and Teenwolf fame, had a very interesting sound in Lil’ Golden Book. Carefree cadences and happy harmonies were combined with lyrics of a somewhat sadder feel. It was a fascinating juxtaposition, and combined with the heavy use of glockenspiel, the album had a childlike wonder, captured so succinctly in standout song The Cigarette Duet. Her debut solo album was certainly a memorable one.
Her sophomore effort, The Great Cybernetic Depression, sees this budding musician take a step away from her earlier exploits (without completely disowning them) to produce a much more mature body of work, made up of ten wonderful but entirely different songs. It drops the childlike pretension illustrated in Lil’ Golden Book, and this change suits the soprano pitch that Chelsea Nikkel (Princess Chelsea’s secret identity) excels at.
There’s also a lot more of an experimental feel to the album than the last; No Church on Sunday has a slower, prog-rock feel to it, and Winston Crying on the Bathroom Floor is a short but peculiar callback to Lil’ Golden Book, with a lot of cat noises but not really much singing.
On the whole, though, The Great Cybernetic Depression takes on a lot more electronica, giving the album a very spacey feel. This is especially apparent in songs such as We Are Strangers and Is It All OK? Chelsea Nikkel’s classical piano background also comes to the fore quite a lot, providing a base (and bass) for Princess Chelsea to develop her own sound, an opportunity she takes with both hands in songs like title track When The World Turns Grey, as well as in We Are Very Happy, a lovely song that incorporates the tuned percussion of Lil Golden Book with the electronic feel of The Great Cybernetic Depression, and gives a big hint into where Princess Chelsea may be going in terms of future styling.
The album also has the distinction of a very strong finish. We’re So Lost is one of only two songs in compound time (along with Winston Crying on the Bathroom Floor) and has a lamenting quality that Princess Chelsea brings out with poise and gravitas. Finally, the closing track All The Stars is a great epilogue to the album, full of the electronica that characterizes The Great Cybernetic Depression, but this time with added drums that give this album the big finish it deserves.
It’s definitely not a mainstream pop album (and thus it’s not for everyone), but for those who look for something a little different in their music, The Great Cybernetic Depression is a must-listen album that gets better and better with multiple listens.
The full track-listing for ‘The Great Cybernetic Depression’ is as follows…
‘When the World Turns Grey’
‘Is It All OK?’
‘No Church on Sunday’
‘Too Many People’
‘We Are Very Happy’
‘We Were Meant 2 B’
‘Winston Crying On the Bathroom Floor’
‘We Are Strangers’
‘Were So Lost’
‘All the Stars’