Praise for The Loneliest Girl
"The Auckland musician is here to subvert expectations... she begins in a voice sweeter than peach pie and syrup, her voice gliding over slow, classic garage rock riffs that sit somewhere between Velvet Underground and The Cramps... her eyes sparkling through a deadpan expression, injecting a pure shot of cynicism into an otherwise saccharine tale of romance." Noisey - "I Love My Boyfriend" premiere - here
Wonderland - Video premiere for "Wasting Time"
"The innocent melody is prolonged by the playful visuals that sees the musician in a pink doll dress on a picnic with teddy bears, but the lyrics say something quite the opposite" - The Line Of Best Fit on "Wasting Time" - here
Praise for The Great Cybernetic Depression
"Joe Meek meets The Shangri-Las and Beach House in a space age bachelorette pad of infinite tears." Mojo
"Exquisitely sad-hearted and slightly eerie, retro-futurist synth pop… Fans of Lana Del Rey, take note." Metro
"Musically and lyrically Nikkel manages to pull off being both over the top and understated throughout the record, often at the same time." CMU
"The new LP boasts classical-inspired baroque-isms, Courtney Barnett-style humour/banality, and an obsession with the intergalactic." The Line of Best Fit
"dream-scaped in flotillas of altering states of grace, and it's quite divine." God is in the TV
""Too Many People" stands out with its swooning, pulsing chiming melody and deceptively mellifluous four-letter critique of stifling small-town life." Uncut
"cartoonishly cute little ditties about the perils of smoking, drinking and dating older men."
Guardian New Band of the Day
The Loneliest Girl - Lil' Chief - 7 September 2018
Princess Chelsea is the recording project of New Zealand based composer, Chelsea Nikkel. She returns with her fourth album, The Loneliest Girl, which has been two years in the making and is due for release on September 7th 2018 via Lil’ Chief. The album examines the loneliness and ultimately the artistic satisfaction a strong work ethic can bring, the result of which is this eclectic collection of pop songs. Chelsea’s trademark arrangements featuring classic 80s Synths (Yamaha DX7, Roland D-50), ambient guitars, and orchestral instruments are all here but are presented in a more refined and simple manner than on her previous releases.
The Loneliest Girl was recorded by Chelsea between 2016 and 2017 in her home studio in West Auckland, New Zealand with production assistance from label-mate and long-term collaborator Jonathan Bree. As a studio based artist, Chelsea was conscious of not wanting to fall too deep into a production hole and wanted to more than ever before capture moments of inspiration, madness and spontaneity on record. As a result a number of the recordings on the album feature single-take instruments and vocals (“I Love My Boyfriend”, “Wasting Time”, “I Miss My Man”), free form waxing lyrical (“Wasting Time”, “All I Need To Do”), yelling loudly through a mic with 100% mix of Lexicon Reverb (“I Miss My Man”), collages of guitar shredding (“Growing Older”) and musical sketches recorded in under an hour (“The Deer With Golden Lights”, “Cigarette”).
This theme of the album is summed up in the closing track “All I Need To Do”, in which Chelsea attends a Springsteen concert and feeling insecure and inspired at the same time reminds herself, “All I Need To Do is make the music and try to be true”. A notable change from previous material is the presence of a strong and clearly defined chorus in every track no matter how unconventional it’s structure.
A classically trained pianist, Nikkel initially lent her talents to self-professed "circus punk" act Teen Wolf in the mid-2000s, and later in the touring line-up of indie pop outfit the Brunettes. When she wasn't performing, she worked as a composer for a local recording studio, all the while refining her songwriting and production skills. Her full-length debut as Princess Chelsea, Lil' Golden Book, was released in late 2011 by New Zealand label Lil' Chief. The album was a collection of songs about her youth presented with innocent melodies and baroque arrangements to create a musical fairy tale. The juxtaposition of her simple arrangements, childlike delivery and cynical wit is a significant and defining characteristic of her music.
She made videos for many songs from the album, and the homemade clip for "The Cigarette Duet" soon made waves in the press after earning over 30 million views. The song was a duet with ex-Brunette Jonathan Bree; who featured heavily on the next Princess Chelsea album. A synth-heavy sci-fi opera about a future world rendered helpless in the face of depression brought on by technology, The Great Cybernetic Depression was released by Lil' Chief and Flying Nun in June 2015.
In 2016 Chelsea released a surprise album of covers called Aftertouch. The title track was written by fellow New Zealand synth musician Disasteradio and refers to pressure sensitivity on an electronic synthesizer. The album also featured covers by Nirvana, The Beatles, Interpol, Lucinda Williams and Marianne Faithfull arranged using Yamaha DX7 and other vintage synthesiser sounds accompanied by dreamy layered vocals and reverb heavy drums. A limited red vinyl LP was released as a webstore only collectable.
Stylistically The Loneliest Girl moves away the more uniform synth sounds of The Great Cybernetic Depression to more eclectic territory similar to her first release Lil’ Golden Book and certainly sounds like a record made by a lover of pop music across all genres. Fellow music nerds might hear shades of 60s girl groups mixed with 80s power ballads (“It’s Nothing”), Julie Andrews fronting a twee E Street Band (“Respect The Labourers”), Madonna and Tomita? (“Wasting Time”), late 80s acid house and 90s pop (“The Loneliest Girl”) a garage rock trio who just discovered the Mellotron (“I Love My Boyfriend”) and maybe a Bristol band scoring a B horror (“The Pretty Ones”).
Like her earlier work, adult issues are presented in a humorous and sometimes childlike manner, and this juxtaposition rather than softening the blow makes jarring social commentary hit harder ("Respect The Labourers, our great towers are their sweat and blood" – “Respect The Labourers”, "Ten years, do I have to worry, I considered leaving for a guy that hates money" – “I Love My Boyfriend”, "The Pretty Ones climb the ladder, The Pretty Ones fall further" - The Pretty Ones.)
Near the end of the album on “Growing Older” Chelsea delivers a positive spin on ageing "Growing older is not as scary as always thought it would be just because you’re not as pretty doesn’t mean you’re not happy" however in her trademark style a creepy coda with layered noise guitars appears and seems to suggest otherwise.....