The Great Cybernetic Depression is awash with lush, expansive electronica sounds, lent added nuance by a darkly baroque flair, which draws upon her classical training. A significant space obsession is blended with wry, personal and sometimes mundane lyrics, creating a playful narrative on modern life delivered with deadpan drama.
"No Church on Sunday", the first single from the new album is an ambient stadium rock number with added fairy dust, it was written by a friend of hers Jamie-lee and deals with weird feelings after leaving a strict religious background. 'No Church On Sunday' was a radio hit in New Zealand (...).
This may have many reference points in pop electronica from the synths (Kraftwerk if they were less glum, a quieter Pet Shop Boys but also slightly kitschy Seventies moog albums) and contemporary pop. But with piano, sometimes searing electric guitar and disconcerting psychedelic effects it also obliquely refers to Beatles-pop from that strangely off-kilter time between Sgt Peppers and The White Album.
Or on We Are Very Happy a synth part straight out of Kitaro before she floats in with her featherweight vocal, "Despite everything, I think I still love you . . ." It is a beautiful song about the price of betrayal and how the hurt can never be truly healed.
The theme of sadness in relationships is also explored on the equally moving When the World Turns Grey. Her gift to is in neatly sidestepping what could be shallow irony. Her songs and delivery are convincingly personal, even if they aren't.
She also sounds vocally stronger here than her live showing suggested, much more confident on material like the ineffably catchy No Church on Sunday and We Are Strangers which opens with distant Jonathan Bree (possibly, I only have a stream to work from) in baritone mode before she too comes at you from a long corridor like a spirit figure.
The album title alone tells you she's smart but she also doesn't banner it here in songs which simply seduce you with surfaces then pull you into a strange dreamlike world of her imagining.
And it's a psychedelic world where sometimes you hear a cat crying like a synth.
Or vice-versa. Which seems to be the way of the world for Princess Chelsea.
Princess Chelsea in Deutschland:
31.05.15 Hamburg, Molotow
02.06.15 Berlin, Privat Club