Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Kelis – Rumble

“Milkshake” peaked in 2003…


Anthony Easton: Kelis’ voice is one of the great American pleasures — how it slides, melts, works itself up, and then floats away. It doesn’t do much boiling or rushing or pushing, but it has that endless repetition, letting the horns that fall somewhere between Earth, Wind and Fire and Prince glide forward like the fake gondolas at the Bellagio.

Alfred Soto: The wonderful “Ribs” updated Nina Peebles with TVotR horn charts. Now she sets her sight on eighties retro nuevo, in which she gets garrulous over the same horns in an attempt to prove she’s not nobody’s secretary. Attractive but tentative.

Megan Harrington: Kelis is so wonderfully messy here. First she’s sobbing at the top of her lungs, “Baby, don’t go!” and next she’s sweetly crooning, “I’m so glad you gave back my keys.” The manipulation is masterful, echoed in the song’s circular groove. Just like her long suffering lover, I can’t help but find Kelis a most beguiling shade of psychotic. 

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Kelis flourishes in damn near every musical environment she’s placed in, from Neptunian Badu to yardie bossy wife to house diva. “Rumble” places her in a sleepy afternoon soul space, all louche piano vamps and Daptone-esque horn arrangements, but she’s all out at sea. She mumbles through most of her delivery and barely tries to sell what she’s singing (how can you sell something like “Milkshake” and not a line about maître’ds?). Finally, she meets her match.

Scott Mildenhall: “I’m so glad you gave back my keys” is almost catchphrase-worthy, and the in medias res storytelling is evocative — one foot in and one foot out, struggling to concede that feeling relies more on a lapse in memory than memory itself — but the whole thing is stiflingly sedate. It would make for a great interlude or chapter, but not so much a standalone single.

Brad Shoup: The piano teases a blues turnaround that never comes. And similarly, Kelis derails a gruff barrelhouse for a perfect little chorus. I can hear the Black Keys punching this up and whiffing on the delivery. 

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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