King Princess’ long-awaited debut album Cheap Queen is finally here and was well worth the wait. Signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig, the album exudes the Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s retro pop sound but doesn’t simply rely on this nostalgic glow, rather displaying a clear progression within the sound.
What can be described as largely a break up album consists of a chronological story that grew as she did and relays authentic and quirky moments to her loyal fan base. As a highly regarded queer idol, King Princess (real name Mikaela Mullaney Straus) has produced the tracks with a range of emotions in mind, from angst to self-doubt to love to temptation.
Title track Cheap Queen is a self-proclaimed ode to her friends and community. The track follows her journey from unknown to household name somewhat overnight and her appreciation for her circle. With samples inserted underneath the main track at various points, this tune is a unique and bop inducing, synth-based addition to the record.
Ain’t Together is an anthem to those relationships where two people have been dating for a while but still aren’t official. This silky tune has the catchiest backing of the record with a swag of friends featuring on the instrumentals, including Father John Misty on drums. It’s a soft ballad and a highlight of the album for its relatability and aesthetic.
King Princess makes effective use of strong and catchy hooks in each of her tracks that often emphasise the key message of the song. Prophet is a greedy and soulful moment that portrays an infatuation with someone or something, repeated through each chorus with, “Cause I can only think about you/ And what it’s like to walk around you/ And why they like to talk about you/ Cause I can only think about you”
Hit the Back sits towards the end of the record and provides a happy note to conclude. At first, it comes as another slow, sensual song but builds to what can only be described as a disco-like ballad. With sultry lyrics and upbeat backings, this track is a standout for the artist in showcasing her now-iconic sound with enough progression to feel different and exciting.
Each video clip offers an interesting perspective on the tracks as they are often very alternative and unique, depicting the singer in a wild variety of scenarios contrasted by what are sometimes mundane moments.
Some tracks let the album down with their repetitive nature and lack of depth that others give us. Useless Phrases and Watching My Phone are two numbers that on their own don’t leave much to be desired but are relevant in relation to the entire album and the story King Princess is communicating. This storytelling aspect is something the 20-year old singer-songwriter has nailed on this full-length debut.