Review

Kelis

Food

Ninja Tune • 2014

The way things change: Two years ago, the singer Kelis promised that her sixth record was about to be released. It was to be gloomier, more electric, and full of productions by dubstep-wunderkind Skream. Whatever that would have sounded like right after her dance-record »Flesh Tone« – the world will never know. Because instead, we got »Food«, produced by Dave Sitek, one of the great minds behind the indie-band TV On The Radio. Hence, Kelis has slightly moved away from heavy bass lines. What’s more important on this record is the harmony between electric and organic elements. »Runner«, for example, stumbles towards a vortex of melancholy, filled with rhythms of synthesizers and pianos. On »Forever Be«, the signs reverse, the beat jumps up and down while the brass section uses the chorus to drive Kelis’ voice into the foreground. It all works well because Kelis and Sitek have come up with a framework for the singer to run riot which couldn’t be more shell-proof. »Change«, almost anthem-like, takes its time to get rolling, but once it’s rolling, there ain’t no stopping it. Somehow, »Food« has found the perfect balance between those kind of tracks and the more quiet ones, like »Dreamer« – and still the record doesn’t overflow with opulence. Kelis’ vocals alone, as fragile (yet matured) they appear, avert the overflow. Maybe it all works because the record doesn’t try to prove anything to anyone. Maybe it’s because she’s put her signature underneath a Ninja-Tune-contract. In advance, Kelis stated that her sound hasn’t changed much. And she’s right, though this album sounds completely different to the previous ones. Of course, R’n’B is still the basis of it all, but this time, it’s mixed together with large bits of pop, indie and soul. And even though some things might have changed – Kelis remains to be dependable.