The complexity embedded in Kelela’s latest EP, Hallucinogen, encapsulates a sound anchored in both poetic clarity as well as long, passionate self-awareness. The Washington D.C. native’s debut album Cut 4 Me, released earlier this year, served as quite the introduction to the bracing vocalist. Kelela’s tastefully eclectic impulses were deceptively complex yet beautifully executed. Hallucinogen is a natural continuation of this, but more importantly it is a powerful declaration of the intersectionality that she wholeheartedly embraces through her music.
Kelela is a carefree black girl who aesthetically rebuff’s society’s preconceived notions of what she should look like and auditorily repels mainstream expectations of what she should sound like. She fearlessly basks in her creativity while still churning out melodic minimalism at its finest. Hallucinogen is ripe with open wound introspection. “The High” is cerebral and even carnal in its slow-build greatness; “A Message” is a tensely-coiled confession track that possesses a haunting arrangement. “Rewind” is a dazzling throwback tune reminiscent of a simpler, sunnier sound that dominated the 90s. But what is most appealing about Kelela is her predisposition towards lyrical vulnerability. Her soulful sensuality gives way to a plethora of stirring emotions that hit a nerve in the most impenetrable of listeners. Hallucinogen is a bonafide cage match with sentimentality and it’s impossible to figure out who’s the victor. And it’s kind of a good thing.
Hallucinogen EP Tracklist:
01. A Message
04. All The Way Down
06. The High