Natalia Kills

Trouble

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With her first album, 2011's Perfectionist, singer Natalia Kills went from semi-obscurity as a British soap opera actress to fully-fledged pop stardom. That album positioned Kills as a would-be maverick in the vein of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha, with a bent toward Rihanna-esque good girl-gone-ad anthems. On her sophomore effort, 2013's Trouble, Kills is still the party girl with daddy issues and a sex-damaged swagger. Seemingly born out of a one night stand between HBO's Girls and and M.I.A.'s Tumblr account, Natalia Kills' music spews forth like a rainbow cat puke meme that cribs from any number of post-modern contemporary sources, from Courtney Love's "girl with the most cake" tiara, to Grimes' ironic girl-gang posturing, to Gwen Stefani's appropriation of Japanese Harajuku Girl subculture. Kills is the blase gangsta princess delivering her inflammatory lines with a Lolita-esque insouciance that registers somewhere between bored Mall goth and psycho-sexual cheerleader. Which basically means that, while Kills isn’t that far off from the P!nks and Lady Gagas of the world, she has enough of her own personality to keep your attention. One minute, as on "Stop Me," she's Trent Reznor's snotty little sister cooing, "We could do some damage, fuck me in the Paris lights," and putting on her high heels so that "she's closer to God." The next minute, as on "Boys Don't Cry," she's pleading, "I'll be yours tonight, but don't hold me too tight." It's a dance-pop pantomime that artists have been trying to pull off ever since Madonna sang about a sexual experience so revelatory it gave her back her virginity. However it should be mentioned that in the era of Ke$ha, Nikki Minaj, and Lady Gaga, when iconoclast status is the norm among female pop stars, the concept behind performers like Kills can start to feel a little facile, sometimes even bordering on repetitive. Suffice to say, it's hard to define what exactly qualifies as impressive in this arena of pop music; it's mostly a question of what hooks you and what doesn't. And as Kills raps on "Controversy," "Drink the Kool-Aid. Don't drink the Kool-Aid."

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