To say Kelis has been through some changes would be an understatement. Since the 2006 release Kelis Was Here, she moved from Jive to will.i.am's Interscope-affiliated vanity imprint, divorced Nas, and gave birth to a boy. Between all that, in addition to a catalog of four R&B albums that deserved greater sales, she could be forgiven for making something like a mindless dance-pop album.
Kelis's influence is detectable in Lady Gaga and Rihanna, yet her own music is perennially underrated. As with her previous records, her fifth studio album doesn't sound like anyone else – she and producers David Guetta, Benny Benassi and others have concocted a dance, cosmic techno and R&B mix that's stamped with her unique take on things. Since her last studio album, she's divorced rapper Nas and had a baby, but there's little bitterness in the style of 2000's Caught Out There; rather, it's the euphoria of motherhood that dominates.
Does pregnancy turn R&B singers into robots? First Christina Aguilera went cyborg for her post-baby album Bionic, and now Kelis has gone Robo-Mom on this tribute to her infant son, Flesh Tone, which blends awesomely sweaty urban pop with cold Eurodisco. Kelis calls it the sound ? of ”the 22nd century.” We think it’s more like Ibiza club music — but if we’re all Ibizan clubbers in the future, that’s cool with us. B+ Download These:Electro-thumper Acapella at myspace.comSynth-disco 4th of July (Fireworks) at myspace.com See all of this week’s reviews .
Kelis is the unluckiest R&B singer of the modern era. She's enjoyed big hits that have crossed over from urban radio to the novelty-hungry pop audience. The problem is just that, though: Songs like "Milkshake" and "Caught Out There" were taken as novelty songs in the U.S. With Kelis classed as a weirdo outsider-- or worse, nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Neptunes-- both 1999's Kaleidoscope and 2003's Tasty sank from memory once America had squeezed her striking singles dry.
It seemed like everyone recorded a disco album back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s—even Barbra Streisand. That trend seems poised to repeat itself in the early part of this new decade, this time with cheesy, Ibiza-style house beats as accompaniment, and Kelis is the latest female artist to jump on the bandwagon. Her new album, Flesh Tone, sounds dated in the worst kind of way—that is, not enough to sound retro-cool, but enough to sound totally uncool.
Is there a more frustrating figure in the contemporary R&B scene than Kelis? She’s released a clutch of killer songs, including ‘Caught Out There’, ‘Milkshake’, ‘Bossy’, and arguably ‘Acapella’ from this, her fifth studio album to date. By now, Kelis should be a globe-straddling pop superstar, and while she has enjoyed a decent amount of hits (albeit, all of them eclipsed by the nova-like ‘Milkshake’), there’s always something missing from the finished product, something that stops her from blazing into the rarefied territory occupied by the biggest stars. She’s a singer who pioneered a slightly off-kilter brand of R&B infused pop, both in image and sound, but has been thoroughly eclipsed by people (Lady Gaga, Rihanna) who have enjoyed huge mainstream success with work that is clearly indebted to the space Kelis was mapping out for herself in the early Noughties.
A sensual and exhilarating album from a unique treasure. Sarah Bee 2010 As Kevin Rowland knows, pulling off a whiplash change of musical direction can backfire on you. It can make you look like a sales-chasing dilettante, or worse. But Kelis, an RnB artist for more than 10 years, has made a dance album with such confidence and aplomb that it seems no more of a shock than a new hairstyle.