Monday, August 26th, 2019

Kelsey Lu – Foreign Car

Let’s go for a drive…


Kylo Nocom: As a non-driver, driving is fucking scary. My mind seems a bit unprepared for that kind of control, especially when intrusive thoughts come to me in positions that aren’t nearly as vulnerable. I’d like to imagine Kelsey Lu understands how uncomfortable it is to take control of a vehicle, too. But her empathy does not equal lack of confidence: every bit of “Foreign Car” makes driving sound like some sort of curious, engaging experience, something decidedly romantic. Her swooping string arrangements veer between horror (the likes that pervaded her Church EP as navel-gazing ambience are now evolved into forward-facing screeches) and sensuality (punctuating every staccato, breathless syllable). Lu’s strangled operatics are labored in a way that draws a perfect outline around the physical, and eventually with that pitch-shifted bridge ascends into the angelic. “Foreign Car” rides its metaphor out wondrously, entertaining its implications and making love sound just as intimate, tangible, and downright dangerous as it could possibly end up being.

Alfred Soto: With her wobbly vocals, eccentric ear for stresses, and penchant for elaborate, absurd metaphor, Kelsey Lu is her own creation, and she hopes you find “Foreign Car” (guess what she compares it to) as enchanting as she does. The stuttered chorus loses its novelty after first listen, though. 

Joshua Lu: “Foreign Car” is full of tension, from those sinister sounding string chords to the incessant, hypnotic chorus. But it’s all rise and swell with no climax, and the distorted and industrial noises feel sloppy; a more manicured chaos would probably feel deadlier.

Katherine St Asaph: Imagine the midpoint of “Rocket’s Tail” and “I Follow Rivers” and you’ll not be far off from “Foreign Car” (nor far off from a [10]), except Lu’s track is even more inventive and idiosyncratic and dramatic in non-obvious ways. Docked a point because the bridge lets a tiny bit of air out of the tires.

Tobi Tella: The reversal of gender roles in this slow jam and especially the video is nice — it’s refreshing to see a woman sing about foreign cars and be surrounded by scantily-clad men for a change. I just wish the song itself went anywhere or did anything interesting with the central metaphor.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Like the rest of Blood, “Foreign Car” has better arrangements than songwriting. The cinematic strings and horns, as well as the woozy electronics that appear in the final stretch, are dramatic enough to warrant immersive listening, but they’re not enough to prevent the hook from becoming frustratingly repetitive.

Nortey Dowuona: A sharp, stunning string section slides across the bubbling, cooked drums atop twisted, tilting synths. Kelsey gently lays her voice across the web rising from the cauldron, then pushes down on spiking with stabs and breaching bass as she skids aside, then sets the cauldron down as it softly drifts into a thick foam.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The thing that was always so appealing about old disco records to me as a child were the strings. They felt out of place — little dispatches of baroque high drama, interrupting the groove and heightening everything around them. The imperfection of the synthesis was the point — the stabs of classical music were almost utopian in how they worked-but-didn’t. “Foreign Car”‘s blend of the orchestral and the dancey comes to you from the opposite direction, but is no less brilliant. Instead of grafting the trappings of classical music on to a dance beat, Kelsey Lu bends the structure of dance-pop on to something altogether weirder and more abstract. It’s a song that feels like something out of a China Mieville novel, warping song structure and even individual instrumental parts around Lu’s force of will. It’s the kind of song that works both as an object of study and as a more immediate banger — the delirious stabs of cello and Lu’s drawn out phrasings and repetitions work on every part of you at once, leaving you lost in an altogether uncanny groove.

Reader average: [4.16] (6 votes)

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2 Responses to “Kelsey Lu – Foreign Car”

  1. What makes “Foreign Car” so sui generis compared to other Songs for the Highway (choose between the “Drive” by Halsey, Glades, or Oh Wonder) is how it chooses not to focus on the objects passing by in the rear view mirror. Instead, Lu makes ample use of the windshield, blows up the road unraveling before the wide glass screen into CinemaScope proportions — to the point where the frenetic crescendos of the violin (a possible cue for Hereditary), chromatic beeps of some satellite whirling out of the sky, and Broadway diction on the verses (“sighhhhhh-len-t”) don’t jut out of place. Unlike, say, EDEN’s “XO,” the synthetic and acoustic converge the way the road bleeds into the distance, a collage of contiguity yet distinction.

  2. she released a remix EP (named Blood Transfusion, lol) this month and the remix of “Foreign Car” on it is great

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