I recently listened to the album Love Stuff, by artist Elle King. This twelve-track CD was an interesting one, to say the least. However, “interesting” isn’t the best way to describe my feelings about it. Overall, I feel that the album is just okay. There are good points and there are bad points, but not enough of one to outweigh the other.
Let’s being with the negatives. The biggest problem with this album for me is King’s voice. She is forcing it too much when she sings, which creates a raspy tone, much like a chain-smoker, that is cringe-worthy at times. When I first put this album on, and was greeted by the track “Where the Devil Don’t Go”, I almost turned the CD off because of how much I was put off by King’s voice. It honestly made me wince when she hit some of the notes. When she forces her voice, and she gets loud, her intonation is poor, which creates difficult to listen to, off-color notes. One of the songs that was supposed to be the “big feature”, if you will, was her single “Ex’s and Oh’s”. Because of her raspy voice, I was less than impressed by the track.
Another problem with King is that some of her tracks are the kind anyone can hear from a generic, angsty female artist. The best comparison I have is that King is like Christina Perri, just with a deeper, less full voice. Two tracks that stand out in this regard are “Song of Sorrow” and “Ain’t Gonna Drown”. It’s simply typical for an angst-style singer, with the whole sort of “the-world-is-against-me” lyricism. These two negatives are heavy hitters when looking at this album on the whole.
Now, I would be lying if I said I hated everything about this album. I want to start by saying that there are three songs that are standout diamonds-in-the-rough on this album. The first is “Kocaine Karolina”, which is a sadder song that talks about a woman who has lived a hard life because of her fire-brand spirit, but encouraging her to keep on going, and not waste away before she dies. This is a standout due to the gentle nature of the song, and the simple melody behind it. Because it’s a gentle piece, King doesn’t have the rasp in her voice like in other tracks from her essential shouting. The next track that stands out is “America’s Sweetheart”, which, despite the title, is about a girl who is a genuine country girl, and not a prim-and-proper doll that people want to see as the “American sweetheart”. This is one of the tracks that King’s raspy voice actually works for the song. The track itself has a sort of Mumford and Sons country-rock feel to it, where King actually does some impressive work. The last of the three is “Make You Smile”. This track to me is slightly reminiscent of Christina Perri’s song “Miles” in its themes, just as a reference point. Once again, its King’s gentler side that makes this track a good one.
The other thing that actually makes this album good is the music in every song. Every song has a different musical style associated with it. This can go from a 70’s rock style, like the song “Under the Influence”, to a hard rock feel with “Last Damn Night”, and may other styles in between. This actually impresses me a great deal, because many artists are not as diverse as King in that regard, and stick to one style of song. This album is twelve tracks with twelve different music styles.
So, overall, I can’t say I’m overly-impressed with the Love Stuff album, but I can’t say I totally hate this album. It has its things that make it something worth while, while there are other things that cause it to drag along the ground. I can’t say I would recommend this album personally, however, just because of how indecisive I am over it. To me, it just leaves a sort of “Oh…” feeling after listening to it, and frankly, that’s how I’m ending this review, because I have no real strong, conclusive way to sum up Elle King’s album.