Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Kelela – LMK

The single to lift Jam City past the Google results for the folks who made Family Guy: the Quest for Stuff?


[Video]
[7.64]

Leah Isobel: Kelela’s sonic world is consistently delightful and so rewarding in its smoky, clubby, joyful haze. Like many of her songs, “LMK” took a moment to sink in for me, and I still think it lacks the kind of huge hook that made tracks like “Rewind” or “All the Way Down” indelible. But it makes up for that with an off-kilter atmosphere and some of her strongest songwriting to date (the way the prechorus rhythms cross over the beat is a particular thrill). Best of all is the escalating sense of tension that her melodies create over the slightly uneasy chord progression — when she bursts into rollercoaster melisma on the bridge, her vocal never quite resolves with the music, even as both ramp up in intensity. Like the endless, fashionably sinister hallways in the music video, “LMK” lives in the in-between space, where anticipation and dread intermingle. Leave it to Kelela to make purgatory this sweet.
[8]

Julian Axelrod: A fog horn, a whale call, a hi-hat skittering like typewriter keys: Every piece of “LMK” is a cry for connection. Kelela’s come-ons are refreshingly direct, and her call for open communication feels more like a rule than a plea. But her player persona takes on a sinister air when it’s enveloped in that futuristic wall of sound. A chorus of Kelelas creeps in around you, and suddenly you have no choice but to succumb to her desires. The call is coming from inside the club.
[7]

William John: Kelela’s resumé is replete with ominous clanging intersecting with hundreds of her own vocal takes, but I can’t recall this ever happening with as much confidence as on “LMK”. She makes repeated demands of her indecisive admirer, delivered so adroitly such that each could be interpreted as either admonishment, bored nonchalance, or flaunting. I don’t blame the suitor’s silence; the swinging bass and her self-assured vocal would leave most silent with mouth agape.
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: What an interesting listen: “LMK” combines a danceable R&B jam with producer Jam City’s obtuse techno and Kelela’s minty-cool vocals. The parts may be more notable than the end results, but props for effort. 
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Kelela making traditional verse-chorus format songs against her wildly jarring production had the potential to sink everything she had going for her. Instead, it hones her stylistic variability into a concision that her prior highlights only sketched around. There’s certainly a lot riding here, as the crew affiliated with Night Slugs/Fade to Mind have been so eager to infiltrate the pop mainstream properly but have always seemed a bit too monstrous compared to their more saccharine, cynical cousins (*cough* PC Music *cough*). Thankfully, their chaos is frenetic but reined in, pinning Kelela’s aesthetic to the familiar but also feeling like the potential, heralded but never committed, for new life in R&B.
[7]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The wide-ranging influence that Jam City’s Classical Curves had on underground music throughout the past half decade is undeniable. Its pristine sound design-minded club music was an amalgamation of many things — grime, ghetto house, funk, kosmische — yet became a reference point and wellspring of ideas for countless producers and musicians looking to make music with a similar retrofuturistic sheen — be it club music or not. It was no surprise, then, that Classical Curves was followed by something considerably different: a moody singer-songwriter album more akin to dream pop than anything for the dancefloor. I’m convinced this is why Jam City is one of the few producers to craft a beat that makes sense for Kelela. Despite its success, Cut 4 Me felt more like a showcase for its producers than Kelela — understandable, since the producers (Jam City included) had previously only used vocals as little more than ornamentation. Things started to change with the Hallucinogen EP, and it’s thankfully continuing in the right direction on “LMK.” It’s not as immediate as “Rewind,” but the absence of a huge hook better reflects the song’s lyrics. Kelela’s asking a guy to let her know if they’re going to hook up. As the song progresses, the titular phrase is constantly repeated: a manifestation of unresolved sexual tension and the anticipation one has in seeing someone read their come-on. The situation’s in limbo, and the thick fog that characterizes the track helps to capture Kelela’s uncertainty. Through it all, she exudes near-intimidating levels of confidence, but that she has to clarify that the relationship “ain’t that deep either way” suggests that these dudes either disagree or are unsure of such a prospect. And as the night goes on, we feel Kelela’s disappointment in Jam City’s massive kick drum, embodying her persistence and dissatisfaction. She doesn’t want to go home alone, but that’s how things are starting to look.
[8]

Katherine St Asaph: Jam City’s production, muted and insular as fuming, constrains the track much as below-low expectations constrain whatever Kelela might be feeling — a yearning “let me know” rebutted, with varying levels of fervor, by “it ain’t that deep,” as if she’s talking herself down. Not a crush song for the beginning, but one for just before the end, when you’re resigned to wringing one pyrrhic fuck out of nothing.
[7]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Dystopian R&B; as it adds more pieces, it breaks down instead of building up. This frenetic falling apart mirrors the narrator, who seems to be playing it cool at first, but it soon becomes clear she’s head over heels crushing. Maybe you could let her know sometime, or maybe, you know, you could let her know, now, immediately, because she can’t bear the anticipation much longer.
[7]

Alfred Soto: I find much to praise in “LMK”: Jam City’s aqueous electronic production, at the center of which is a three-note synth bass, and Kelela herself, keeping her distance while hoping to get noticed. “LMK” reproduces the club experience.
[8]

Nortey Dowuona: A smooth vibrating coo about the fragility of any relationship sits atop a rising anthill of synths and Soulection drums.
[9]

Ramzi Awn: Kelela’s grasp of party-friendly R&B is on point, and her command of melody is a breath of fresh air. Bringing together compelling riffs with just the right harmonic structure, the single draws you in.
[9]

Jibril Yassin: “LMK” takes that spacious, stretched-out-to-forever feeling I loved about “Rewind” and stretches it out even further to feel like it could disappear into the chilled night air from whatever bedroom or club you’re hearing it from. The hazy middle eight feels perfectly placed: a comedown paired with the kind of chorus that just about takes Kelela into the stratosphere, quite unlike what we’ve heard before. 
[8]

Josh Love: “LMK” isn’t on par with “Rewind,” but it finds Kelela still comfortably occupying a sweet spot between the abstractions of FKA Twigs and the more straightforward likes of Tinashe. I just wish I could take this marriage of goth pop and New Jack Swing back to 1988 and watch everyone’s heads simultaneously explode.
[6]

Eleanor Graham: Brooding, substantial production, gorgeously dispassionate writing, bubbling over with effortless hooks and joyful R&B ad-lib melodrama. Not avant-garde. Not any kind of niche. Writing about Kelela, FKA Twigs, James Blake and other electronic artists often descends into trying to find 15 synonyms for “deconstructed”, but this doesn’t require it. It’s unified, straightforward and infinitely danceable. Not a song Björk would make, but a song Björk would fucking lose it to, you know?
[8]

Reader average: [9.14] (7 votes)

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One Response to “Kelela – LMK”

  1. omg so glad this was reviewed such a BOP

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