Britain’s latest export Natalia Kills
has a few things to say about love, money, and zombies. Her debut album, Perfectionist
, marks the rise of Kills’ brand of pop: a healthy mix of Gaga and Rihanna, garnished with the beats of Britney’s best. She doesn’t vary from that promising pop formula, making her music far from groundbreaking. That said, her music does what pop does best: It makes you dance and doesn’t beg you to think. Not all the songs on Perfectionist
hit their mark (ironic given the album’s title), but the four standout tracks – “Wonderland”, “Mirrors”, “Break Your Heart”, and “Zombie” – promise to be hits.
The videos to “Wonderland” and “Mirrors” are a reliable basis for the Gaga comparisons, given their imagination, symbolism, and artistic notes. “Wonderland” denotes the pop perfection Kills was aiming for, complete with whimsical and fun lyrics (“Who needs true love/As long as you love me truly?”, “Will you wake me up boy/If I bite your poison apple?”) and a catchy, original chorus. Outfitted with stilettos whose heels resemble a human spine, Kills entrances in the “Wonderland” video. It’s filled with scenes of police beating women who are dressed up as rabbits (the images of frailty and of this “wonderland” she has constructed), a constant bombardment of propagandist, subliminal messages, and a beheading at the end to represent her disconnection with reality. Her video combines fashion, creative directing, and layers of symbolism related to surveillance and censorship, and perhaps even represents the outlandish cry of a woman who grew up in Britain’s arguably oppressive culture.
“Mirrors” explores similar themes, such as the duplicity of identity, hubris, and objectification. These are deeper, more relatable subjects than those covered in some of Kills’ other tracks, with “Free” and “Superficial” relating only to the whims of Kills’ credit card and consumptive impulses. She may be trying to be ironic, but the way she speaks about money instead comes off as tasteless and is surprising compared to the quality of the rest of her work.
Just like the biggest pop stars before her, Kills doesn’t rest on her laurels or let the album speak for her by itself. Her real artistic mode of expression lies in the visual. She is a performer, choosing to evoke and tempt the masses through the shock value of her videos and live shows. And with more work like “Wonderland”, Kills promises to become an enduring international staple.
Essential Tracks: “Wonderland”, “Mirrors”