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2013 release from the Alt-Pop singer/songwriter. Kills (real name Natalia Cappuccini) was born in Bradford, an unglamorous industrial town in the north of England. Raised by a Jamaican father and Uruguayan mother, the family was constantly moving from city to city, often shifting enigmatically between their luxury homes in England, Jamaica and Spain. Though her childhood seemed like a dream, it was warped by danger and luxury at a price and after her father's arrest and imprisonment, her penthouse-to-pavement story began. Trouble is Kills' very own madness, memories and melody in one. Written and recorded in collaboration with renowned producers Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Jay-Z, fun.) and Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Kid Cudi, Eminem), Trouble combines Natalia's razor sharp lyrics with her unique and robust vocal delivery. These propel her music into even wilder territory than that on her acclaimed 2011 debut Perfectionist which spawned two top 10 hits in Europe.
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Perfectionist, Kills's debut, showed the world that she was a radio-ready pop singer, but with Trouble, Kills elevates this title to unique, self-aware pop artist. Perfectionist had a pretty consistent set of good songs driven by electronic beats and synthesizers, but it seemed to be missing a sense of individualism and sensitivity. With Trouble, Natalia Kills brings an incredibly amount of these two elements. She reveals emotion honestly and provides us a window into her world. Her lyrics have become far more grown up and meaningful, with some of them almost shockingly honest.
With regard to the musical aspect of the album, it is far less electronically driven and more inclined towards a rock-pop sound. The songs are driven primarily by drums and guitars, with some other percussion and/or keys showing up occasionally, as on "Saturday Night," the second single from the album. Some people have said the music isn't as catchy as that on Perfectionist, but I would argue that it is just as catchy, though maybe not upon first listen.
The other big difference with this album is Natalia's voice, which sounds far deeper and heavier than it did on her debut album. I personally think this lends more power to her voice and to the music, and this part of her voice balances well with the complex arrangements.
"Television"- A strong electro song with an AMAZING spoken intro with a strong musical background. Somewhat like Perfectionist, but a little more heavy sounding. Standout. (5/5)
"Problem"- Obviously a great song. It's not strongest lyrically, but it is incredibly catchy and well-orchestrated. (4.5/5)
"Stop Me"- A fast-paced song about running away and being wild. Catchy and well-done. (4/5)
"Boys Don't Cry"- Driven by guitars and claps, this song recalls a somewhat retro sound (80s?), but with a very modern twist. (4/5)
"Daddy's Girl"- This song stands out to me. Relates her feelings of love towards her father, despite having lost everything he gained for their family. Great song. (5/5)
"Saturday Night"- Still one of my favorites, released as the second single from the album. The lyrics are heartbreaking, and Natalia's deep voice lends a greater sense of emotion to the song. (5/5)
"Devil's Don't Fly"- A song that Natalia stated is about her suicidal thoughts at seventeen. Once again, very emotional and clear in its message. (4.5/5)
"Outta Time"- Released as a free single on iTunes, this song is very simply done, which lends it its uniqueness. (4/5)
"Controversy"- The buzz single from this album... deals with the influence of media on humanity. Very heavily driven by the bass, this song is not the best but is an interesting listen. (4/5)
"Rabbit Hole"- A song Kills previewed a long time ago live. Once again not the best, but still a catchy song. Like "Controversy," heavily driven by bass. Very reminiscent of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." (4/5)
"Watching You"- Written about Natalia stalking her ex-boyfriend, this song doesn't stand out initially, but after a few listens, I have been "converted" to this tune. (4.5/5)
"Marlboro Lights"- Another song about suicidal thoughts, this song, driven by the piano, floats in the air and displays a very vulnerable Natalia. (5/5)
"Trouble"- This song is already one of my favorites. Between the dramatic music and the deathly beautiful lyrics, this song screams with emotion. An incredible step forward for Natalia and a real standout from all her songs. (so incredible it's not worth even rating)
Overall, this album is a really incredible one (DEFINITELY no sophomore slump), and I would recommend at least giving it a listen, because it is truly fantastic.
While Rihanna frequently flaunts her "Good Girl Gone Bad" persona, Natalia actually seems like the real deal although it might be a stretch to imagine a time when Natalia was ever really innocent. She honestly and bluntly lays out and explores why she is the way she is. Subtlety is not the goal. Drugs, domestic violence, brushes with the law, thoughts of suicide, reckless sexual behavior and above all a plea for parental affection and guidance are all recurring themes.
"Stop Me" and "Saturday Night" are two hugely catchy album standouts which both delve into her family history and dysfunction a bit like P!nk's earlier work. Much of the album plays like notes from a therapy session mixed with a steely determination to not just survive but thrive and party till the break of day. The beautiful ballad "Devil's Don't Fly" is a searingly raw and haunting look into a broken relationship: "It's not cause I'm young or from a broken home/ Maybe I just fight cause I don't know where I belong." Musically, though firmly pop---this album seems a bit more drum and bass focused instead of slick synth sounds like on her debut, which I think really propels the sound into being more memorable.
"Trouble" is the top shelf of quality of what mainstream pop has to offer. It's not revolutionary but crawls under your skin and unleashes something deeply sexual and emotionally primal that is intoxicating. It's clear from her producer's discographies, Jeff Bhasker (Kanye, Beyonce, Alicia Keys) and Emile Haynie (Kid Cudi, Eminem, Emeli Sande, Lana Del Rey), that whatever collective wisdom still in the traditional music industry has recognized a star in Natalia and I wholeheartedly agree with their assessment. Don't sleep on Natalia.
For fans of P!nk, Marina & the Diamonds, Ke$ha, Miley, Katy Perry etc...
**Quick note, don't bother getting a "clean" version of the album--that really would ruin the impact of many of the songs. Plus, if you're the type of person who wants a "clean" version, then this probably isn't the type of album for you in the first place.
We'll always have our past, take a listen to the present.
For those who remember, she is the singer who had a hit back in 2011 called "Mirrors," a song which people confused her sound with that of Lady Gaga. On this album, she has developed a sound that is more of her own, and the best part is, SHE wrote or co-wrote the songs. Natalia Kills is a powerhouse vocalist, too, who showcases her inner Cyndi Lauper on "Outta Time," and the smoldering "Devils Don't Fly" is as sonically layered as anything Lana Del Ray has ever recorded. The Lead single "Problem" is an obvious hit, and on "Controversy," Kills raps in a low whisper and sings over a thumping bass line about real life issues facing young people today, without the self-importance or hypocrisy of Pink. As tough as Pink tries to be, Natalia Kills would eat her lunch. The masterpiece "Boys Don't Cry" is every bit as good or even better than any Katy Perry single, without the annoying yelp and excessive auto tune. It's so refreshing to see a pop album without the likes of Max Martin, Red One, the Matrix, Tricky Stewart, Dr. Luke, Fernando Garibay, and all the other professional cooks behind the success of many of the cookie cutter pop stars our conformity based media is trotting out today.
In a world full of carbon copies, this one is somewhat original. Natalia Kills has delivered a pop album on par with the best of the past decade, as the album develops its own identity with each passing track. So refreshing to not have to hear a guest rapper on every track while the female artist tries to slip innuendo into the lyrics. Natalia Kills just lays it out there, and it shows in her performances. This album deserves to be a huge hit.
My personal favorites are
Controversy - listen closely because there is an important message in it
Trouble and Problem - She knows what kind of person she is and is unapologetic about it
Rabbit Hole- Just a fun listen
Watching You - For that guy you just can't let go of