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Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better: Hold On Baby by King Princess

Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better: Hold On Baby by King Princess

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series:
Critiquing Albums Like I Could Make Anything Better

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know King Princess put out a new album until a couple of days ago. That’s on her for putting an album out on the same day as Maggie Rogers. I can only absorb so much sad girl pop genius at once. But, I decided to listen to the album as an olive branch.

You see, KP and I have been at odds for a while now. They put out that stunning, stellar 2019 album ‘Cheap Queen’, full of crisply produced sad-girl disco bangers. It was probably one of my most listened-to albums of that year. Still, I let the rumour mill spin its way into my heart. I heard infamous tidbit stories that painted KP in a rather unflattering light.

I’ve since grown and decided that I would listen to this album and hear her out. I was, on some level, surprised by its contents. King Princess has been in a relationship with creative director Quinn Wilson in the time since Cheap Queen was released. This means that most of the songs on this album take context from a committed relationship in lockdown. It’s considerably less chaotic than her past records. It’s not a dance record, really, it’s relatively sombre, but you mightn’t notice amongst the addictive production on some of the tracks.

Tracklist
1. I Hate Myself, I Want To Party

I didn’t expect this to be a sad song. It’s very reflective; it feels like it should have come much later in King Princess’s career. It’s lonely, jarring, and honest. It’s the guilt of not wanting to go out after two years of not being allowed to. It’s a gentle introduction to a really vibrant album. It’s self-aware, a little bit humourous, and slow-building. The explosive rock-esque outro is a pattern we’re seeing a lot of in current pop music – but I think it’s done really well here.

But I hate myself, I want to party
And pretend that I’m a part of something
But instead, I watch TV, fuck my girl, check my phone, babe
PS5, change my shirt and drink alone, babe
And only I can bring me down
And keep me stuck at home

2. Cursed

This one’s been out for a while – it’s also quite gentle, but it’s laced with earnest love, and the gentle melody feels emotionally resolved. The semi-acoustic ending is so tastefully done. KP has a gift for mastering the lift and fall of a song – making ordinary experiences more emotionally invested through stepping into her own as a producer.

It’s a curse to be your friend
You look the same
Did you stop smoking weed
Or trying to please your dad?

3. Winter is Hopeful

This is one of my favourites. The echo effect is efficient in its tone. The electronic build mixed with the ambient resistance is nothing short of delicious. She name-drops her partner in such a beautiful way, and it’s another potent example of KP’s production choices making a song particularly effective. It’s a song about tension in a relationship, and the beat reflects that. It’s cautious, slow-building, and at parts, sporadic and volatile. Her vocals on this track feel so personal – like she’s whispering a confession.

Look, I’m changing the way that I walk
Too hard (Too hard)
And it’s shaking the floors and the parts
That’s love (That’s love)
Oh, you tell me it’s fine when it’s not
Ooh-ooh
And everyone knows that I’m hot
But it means so much more from your tongue
Once more from your gut

4. Little Bother

I love how clean her vocals are on this track. Fousheé features on it and adds an extra layer to the feel of it. In my opinion, it is the underdog of the album. It’s a nostalgic, familiar musical blur of passing time.

While you’re watching the paint dry
Remember you lost me
And do you feel like you should?
You could have tried a little harder
It didn’t make me feel good
I was just a little bother

5. For My Friends

I’ve been listening to this since they put it out as a single a while ago – I love its beat; it feels anthemic. KP first performed it while supporting Kasey Musgraves, which is as good a time as any to air a sappy love song to your high school best friends. The beat pre-chorus on the lyrics “when I’m coming home” makes me indescribably happy.

We go too far back
You wouldn’t leave me now
To find someone like that
It wouldn’t be easy now
’Cause I’ve been thinking about
Getting drunk again
At the same house where it all started
And I love you so much that I didn’t care
When you stained the carpet

6. Crowbar

The sweet piano is so lovely – like a memory or a lullaby. The lyrics are somewhat heavy, but it’s the closest thing to a love song on this album, and it’s a comforting sigh.

And I’m not lonely
Only since you’ve been by my side
Like a crowbar
Prying at the chip on my shoulder

7. Hold on Baby Interlude

This sounds like a spaceship church hymn. The lyrics are so poised I adore them. Good pop music is shameless; it’s so honest that it’s embarrassing. This album is very that.

“I like for all of my interludes to feel like they’re going to be full songs and then they’re not. I thought it should kind of surmise what the album is about, with the interlude, and bring that melody as a motif back. I’m a woman of the theater, so I love a reprise.”

King Princess to Apple Music

Like a chipped tooth with a nerve exposed
I’m a silhouette of mental health
I’m a clown that needs attention, baby
And I want them laughing harder
I’m the problematic leading man

8. Too Bad

This is my least favourite of the singles they’ve put out – I also love the build towards the chorus and the tinny effects on the vocals later in the song.

My God, it is hard to be loved, but that’s life
Too bad that I’m never enough
So sad, got me licking my cuts and that’s fine
Too bad that I’m never enough

KP put out this stellar combined video clip for Too Bad and Cursed directed by Quinn Wilson – I’m obsessed with it.

9. Change the Locks

I love this song. It’s interestingly rather formal; it could almost be in a theatre production. It’s a song about dysfunction – it’s pretty dramatic, but I adore how honest it feels. It’s a great storytelling moment on the record. The nods to codependency heightened by spending lockdown with your partner are very culturally relevant.

The vocals are filled to the brim with genuine remorse and pain. King Princess said about the song, “I can’t wait to give you a song about the dysfunctional sapphic experience of codependency.” and that’s exactly what they did. The first verse is kind of Solar Power-esque, exploding into an argumentative chorus.

You have had your heart and body
Turned to someone’s hobby
I’m the one who puts you in your place
And a year or so we spend together
Nights and days were tethered
So what’s it gonna take to make it stop
And throw you off when I look hot?

10. Dotted Lines

This song is self-deprecatingly cocky. That’s King Princess for you. KP told Apple Music that she was only listening to Kate Bush whilst making this album, and this song mainly took inspiration from that.

I’m fuckin’ smarter than them
I work hard droppin’ coins in their hand, no end
They should be my biggest fan
But instead
I throw a couple back on the bathroom tiles
Paint a pretty face over tears I’ve cried

11. Sex Shop

The drop on this song blew my mind on first listen, and it scratches my brain so right. It was apparently first written as a piano ballad – but I’m glad they changed it. Without reading too far into the lyrics, it seems to be referencing King Princess’ journey with navigating a romantic and sexual relationship despite gender-related insecurities.

You and I in thе bedroom
Has never been bad nеws
You passed the key to the map
Just so I could seduce you
But I need someone to put their hands in the ways I want them placed
But will you still love me
If I confuse you?

12. Let Us Die

This one has punk pop vibes, falling in line with the resurgence we’ve seen of this genre in modern pop music- it’s very different from the start of the album. The late Taylor Hawkins (Former legendary Foo Fighters) recorded the drums on this song, which is a huge deal, and it’s a fun way to end an otherwise sombre album.

Well baby, I’m starving
For your heart to soften
But pain makes me want you
Does that make me awful?

Plus, the video clip was directed by her partner, and it’s sick.

Track Ranking
  1. For My Friends
  2. Change the Locks
  3. Cursed
  4. Winter is Hopeful
  5. Sex Shop
  6. Dotted Lines
  7. Little Bother
  8. Crowbar
  9. I Hate Myself, I Want To Party
  10. Let Us Die
  11. Hold on Baby Interlude
  12. Too Bad

“King Princess is a way better name than King Queen,”

Tyneesha Williams

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