Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Chelsea Jade – Laugh It Off

We travel to New Zealand and meet someone else: “Vice described her as New Zealand’s ‘Accidental Dream Pop Hero.'”


William John: “I’m not going into grieving for you,” sings Chelsea Jade, and on the page it reads as nerve, as steely resolve that’s almost unfathomable. Generally, unless there’s violence or toxic emotional manipulation or some other form of serious malfeasance involved, an end to a relationship is always followed by grief — sometimes silent, or sometimes disguised by performative nonchalance, but there, pervasive, eating away at your thoughts and sinew, manifesting somewhere on a spectrum between sighing and screaming. Jade elongates her verbs and punctuates each line of the chorus of “Laugh It Off” with a parabolic keyboard riff not dissimilar to the one in Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be,” affording herself space and allowing her words to take on a declaratory quality. She reminds us that despair can sometimes be perforated just by pausing for breath.

Claire Biddles: Like the rest of her superlative debut album Personal Best, “Laugh It Off” is perfectly pitched sophisticated synthpop. It’s musically zeitgeist-y, but with enough lyrical idiosyncrasies to keep us on our toes, as Jade juxtaposes conversational banalities with surprising imagery: “I wanna be wrong but it don’t feel right/Lighting my name up with an exit sign.”

Vikram Joseph: Midtempo, pleasantly grayscale, melancholy-taxi-ride-through-a-city-at-night pop, with a hint of Cupid Deluxe-era Blood Orange in the warm ’80s twang of its opening chords and Italo disco in the twitchy synth-bass. It’s just an actual hook short of being Really Good.

Katherine St Asaph: The more of these vaguely-alt-pop songs I hear, the more it seems like the narcissism of small differences how I find that one transcendent and sparkling and this one derivative and OK. This one might be the song’s fault, though: banal writing (“you’re pushing me into this falling out,” “I’ve been trying to make amends with you lately”) about taking it easy and not caring. The melody and arrangement are as muted as the emotional register; better songs come of grieving and heavy breathing than laughing and teasing.

Alex Clifton: “Laugh It Off” sounds like a lot of different people–Haim and Lorde are the two most obvious comparisons–but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. I like my cool synth tracks with strong vocals, and Chelsea Jade delivers.

Ian Mathers: The backing here, the vocals, and even the lyrical content feel like a cooler (in temperature), slightly more abstracted Shura song, right down to a chorus that sneaks up on you. Seeing as how Nothing’s Real was one of the best overlooked pop albums of the last couple of years, that’s not exactly a damning comparison, but this never feels like a pale imitation, partially because Chelsea Jade’s other singles from Personal Best are different enough in register and partly because of the little vivid touches, from the deadpan playfulness of the video to the fact that this is exactly the kind of kiss-off that totally sells the person being left behind as a shithead.

Alfred Soto: Like Shura and Laura Jean, Chelsea Jade uses synths as makeup: the smile on her face is only there to fool the public. 

Stephen Eisermann: Moody synth-pop is always up my alley, but the real strength to this song is the cathartic chorus where Chelsea Jade lets the sarcasm and disappointment drip off her every word. Miranda Priestly would be so proud.

Reader average: [8] (2 votes)

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