Princess Chelsea – Lil’ Golden Book

January 01, 1970

(Lil’ Chief Records)


Packaging doesn’t generally enter into my discussion of
contemporary recorded matter. So I’ve been trying to remember a similar
reaction to the one I’m having re: Princess Chelsea’s debut CD. Oh, yeah: First
time I saw/ran my hands over Cat Stevens’ Tea
for the Tillerman
album cover. Also, a few years ago, purchasing a multi-CD
compilation of girl group rarities that came in a circa-‘50s/‘60s,
black-and-white striped hatbox. And so on. Still, I’m not over the design,
artwork and packaging of Princess Chelsea’s Lil’
Golden Book
… which looks and feels just like… guess what? This feels
especially timely as Kindle and similar digital devices churn real books into
unnecessary relics.


Princess Chelsea’s sounds carry a chutzpah similar to that
signaled by her moniker and presentation — they’re intensely precise, with
fair amounts of space between sonic occurrences. Some are piano-anchored, with
xylophone/bell tones; interlacing cabaret, gothic, and Montreal coffeehouse shoe-gaze styles. Little
lacings of guitar reverb are placed meticulously, as if to say that they are
precious. PC’s little-girl vocals add a moderately unsettling element, although
some of the strangeness feels conceptual (titles include “Ice Reign,” “Monkey
Eats Bananas,” and “Goodnight Little Robot Child”). Lil’ Golden Book could be the soundtrack to a Disney animation
flick of an Edward Gorey tale; a flick that gets made in a parallel universe
where Little Golden Books have become useless relics, and girls who make
records with covers that look like Little Golden Books are black-stockinged
outlaws. PC’s joined on a couple songs by Lil Chief Records mates Jonathan Bree
(The Brunettes) and Lawrence Arabia.


Although this all takes place in New
Zealand, Lil’
Golden Book
is only occasionally hair-raising enough to bring Beautiful Creatures to mind. Among
several moments of childlike brilliance is PC’s dream-pop-ish “Too Fast to
Live,” in which she pleads, “Please… don’t… drink… so much/Your mother would be
sad/She’s a nice lady/So show you deserve her/Or you’re going to end up like
your dad.” Talk about a real-life horror story! “Cigarette Duet” could be
another excellent way to drop the hint that you’re tired of the guests at your
latest shindig. Princess Chelsea seems a very opinionated young lady, and/or
one who’s watched and/or experienced a fair amount of dysfunctional
relationship content. Sweet.


Now that you’ve read the book; here’s the Reader’s Digest version:  PC would be an excellent adjunct to a Coco
Rosie/Bjork concert. But she’s not scary enough to open for The Residents:
After analyzing her promising debut, they’d throw her in crumb cake and gobble
her up for the fresh blood.


DOWNLOAD: “Overseas,” “Frack,” “Caution Repetitive,” “Goodnight Little Robot Child,” “Ice
Reign (Reprise)” MARY LEARY



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