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Album-Review: Kelela – RAVEN

Kelela's sophomore record RAVEN clocks in at over an hour of runtime. From the start, it was my fear that this would be the record's biggest problem, especially since some of the singles already had some minor pacing issues. It is natural to a project of this style - atmospheric, downtempo alternative R&B - that great care needs to be taken for it to not get boring or just background noise. So, now that I've alluded to it, does RAVEN manage the tightrope walk? The answer disappointingly is no. However, the first half of the record up to and including Contact consistently keeps things interesting. The transition between the songs are very satisfying and there are quiet a lot of surprising and groovy moments. Then the pacing takes a dip with the tracks Fooley and Holier. The following title-track also takes its time to build up, but its ending gets the album going again. Bruises further capitalizes on the recreated momentum. And then it all comes to a halt again on Sorbet and Divorce. While these tracks are quiet a bit stronger than the previously mentioned duo, it's not enough to save the album from sliding into the background. With Enough for Love and Far Away, RAVEN ends on a high-note though, which leads me to still look back on it all positively. Kelela might be a little repetitive with her cool and soothing vocals and the washed out, ambient instrumentals, but ultimately RAVEN feels coherent and rewarding enough to justify repeated listens... if you are in the mood for an hour of this kind of music of course.

7 / 10

  1. Washed Away | 80
  2. Happy Ending | 85
  3. Let It Go | 75
  4. On the Run | 80
  5. Missed Call | 80
  6. Closure | 75
  7. Contact | 85
  8. Fooley | 70
  9. Holier | 65
  10. Raven | 80
  11. Bruises | 75
  12. Sorbet | 75
  13. Divorce | 75
  14. Enough for Love | 85
  15. Far Away | 75