Album Review // Kelis – Food

We’ve talked previously about how food and music seem to go together perfectly and here, as if to prove our point, comes Kelis with an album called Food. Coincidence? We think not…

Indeed, as lazy metaphors go, there are many you can justifiably throw at this record with its numerous cuisine references found in the song titles. Arguably, this is much  tastier a meal than the previous work we’ve encountered from the artist. Imbued with a modern soul sensibility and sophisticated, rather than needlessly experimental (although there is never anything wrong with a bit of experimentation, of course), production this album swathes over the listener like a perfectly cut silk jacket.

The perfectly balanced Floyd, contains the lyric ‘I know I don’t look it but I can cook’ and true to the songs chorus we were truly blown away by this bittersweet anthem to seeking companionship. With horns that are like honey on an already sweet pancake it’s an early highlight, soulful and infinitely listenable. With considerably less tracks on the list than the average Kelis album too, this  is only a good thing. After all, how many servings can one get through? The metaphorical musical buffet of Food offers thirteen tracks, the majority of which are winners.

Only the too run of the mill Runnin’ disappoints by comparison to the smorgasbord on offer. Notably, Jerk Ribs is an instant audio treat with an instinctive percussive rhythm and more of those horns that capture the imagination so well. Vocally too, there is little to find lacking with some classic soul imbued vocals adding to the funk of an album that is certainly worthy. Add the straight ahead New Orleans funk of Hooch to a bursting trunk of funk booty to treasure and you already have some inspiring jams for everyone and the true funk soldier next door.

But as with any album themed around such culinary love, there are some flavours that go deeper than the horn imbued funk. One of these flavours, the bittersweet but beautiful Bless The Telephone is another must listen, recalling those moments when a ring of the phone can be a cure for a lonely patch.

There is perhaps much to be said about Food that can be better attained by listening to it at your nearest convenience. It’s an album that is shockingly listenable – and far removed from the early Kaleidoscope days of the artist. After listening to the album, we certainly did need some ice cold water, to quote the endlessly listenable Friday Fish Fry, resplendent in its exquisite brass arrangements and passionate vocalisation.

Disparate elements of jazz, funk, psychedelic, world music elements and a stunning production from TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek all combine for a career reinvention that is certainly one to treasure. If this was a meal (and it surely is) we’d be giving it a rare full recommendation and drinking a rare vintage to accompany it’s bittersweet mahogany soul.

(Sebastian Gahan) 

Food is released 21/4/2014 via Ninja Tune. 

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