Princess Chelsea takes you on a journey of healing in her comforting and vulnerable new 10-track album. Everything Is Going To Be Alright, which premieres today on PAPER, is a journey through healing.
Bookended with two title tracks, her “nervous breakdown album” brings you through Chelsea’s emotional recovery and the resulting catharsis. Born out of the New Zealand-based pop artist’s bedroom, melodic vocal recordings tell her story set over an arrangement of mellotron flutes and harp alongside the sounds of live cello and violin.
After lending her talents to two bands, Teen Wolf and then The Brunettes, the trained pianist and composer now has a solo music career spanning 11 years. Embracing femininity and cynicism under her nuanced princess persona, Chelsea has 5 albums, 1 EP and 11 singles under her belt. Viral hits “I Love My Boyfriend” and “Cigarette Duet” grew her reach and notoriety as a dreamy pop singer.
Now, Chelsea fulfills her vision as an artist with this sincere album and offers a track-by-track breakdown of Everything Is Going To Be Alright.
"Everything is Going To Be Alright"
Cinematic opener “Everything is Going to Be Alright”’ is equally influenced by 60s girl groups and Black Sabbath. Chelsea plays guitar, bass and drums with purposeful amateurism that gives the track a slightly eerie feeling while allowing space for her very particular and more complex vocal and keyboard arrangements. Bandmate Joshua Worthington-Church’s noise guitar creeps in over a three-part vocal canon during which Chelsea delivers her favorite trick of expressing earnestly happy lyrics over a minor key. Chelsea started recording this song in 2019 “when I was going through a rough patch” and you can hear the tension - someone trying to convince themselves that everything’s ok even if it's not.
“The Forest” is a collaborative effort with Chelsea’s somewhat legendary (in New Zealand!) live band and was recorded live in one take at Auckland's beloved studio, The Lab. It is a striking deviation from her normal creative process of gradually arranging songs in her bedroom and her output so far provides a further introduction to what she has termed her “guitar album.” “The Forest” is about overcoming adversity and preparing yourself to get through a difficult situation. People often turn to nature as a form of release or therapy and The Forest is a metaphor for whatever you need to do to get through. For Chelsea, it's often running through a literal forest and the dynamic build and release of energy and tension in this recording gives you that feeling.
“Love is More”
“Love is More” is a jangly guitar pop gem that presents as an ode to the Flying Nun guitar bands of New Zealand. Its lyrics seem basic at best until you realize by the second verse that it’s actually about the complexities of an abusive relationship. This makes one ponder the meaning of the chorus “Love is much more than a beautiful feeling.” Chelsea’s skills as an arranger and producer are on display in the form of intricate guitar arrangements that move and shift between layers of acoustic, clean and distorted electric guitar, with multiple lead and countermelody lines. Could the “uh huh huh huh huh huh” vocal refrain be the catchiest hook of 2022?
“Time” is classic pop songwriting reminiscent of 1960s English chamber music (think early Marianne Faithfull) and is similar in style to gems from her Lil’ Golden Book era. Chelsea’s growth in the last ten years as a songwriter and arranger presents this piece as distinctly refined with carefully arranged acoustic guitar, harp, cello, violin, mellotron flutes and bells weaving in between vocal layers that are instantly memorable. Everything has its place here. Cryptic lyrics give way to a familiar theme of positivity, patience and healing with a rather Beatles-esque middle 8 that reassures you “all the pain you feel today, tomorrow it will hurt a little less!”
“I Don’t Know You”
“I Don't Know You” cements its place as an off-beat album track for the fans to close side 1. A loose percussional groove over a mandolin and organ gradually builds to include multiple vocal layers singing a carefully assonated and sometimes hectic bop reminiscent of a Lindsay Buckingham deep cut. Before you know it, “I Don’t Know” has turned into a complex chamber arrangement. To keep it original, an incongruously dirgey guitar solo from long-term collaborator Vincent H.L. (they play in a punk band together called HANG LOOSE) suddenly appears against almost comically cheesy mellotron flutes. Somehow the guitar feedback is arranged as carefully as the pianos. If it wasn’t so precise, it could be a mess - but with craftsmanship and the power of melody, she pulls it off and produces something distinctly her own.
“Forever is a Charm”
Standout "Forever is a Charm" with its minimal groove-based guitar arrangement is at first reminiscent of The Motels or The Cars. Chelsea’s skills as a producer are on full display with a refined and clear arrangement of synth and glockenspiel countermelodies that never outstay their welcome, allowing Jonathan Bree’s bass and guitar playing to shine. As she moves into a slightly Breeders-inspired chorus of “When you’re with me, I feel like I could die / Die / Die / Die!” the loud-soft pop song has never seemed more amusing as Chelsea describes the track which could be mistaken for a love song as being about “boring fake people.”
“We Kick Around”
“We Kick Around” was a last-minute addition recorded in a day with bandmate Joshua-Worthington Church on bass and guitars and Chelsea on drums keys and vocals. It sounds like bubblegum punk (think the Runaways). but with slightly more menacing guitar tones that you might hear in a Gun Club song.
"In Heaven" moves the album back into the dreamy Princess Chelsea style that dominated her second album, The Great Cybernetic Depression, and earnt her comparisons to Julee Cruise and Enya. It is a cover of David Lynch and Peter Ivers' "Lady In The Radiator" from the movie Eraserhead (also famously covered by The Pixies), but Chelsea takes the liberty of adding extra lyrics (“I love you, everything isfFine!”) in her version and layering on the creepiness with huge guitars, a cornet and thunderous drums that sound as they’re being smashed from another dimension.
"Dream Warrior" continues the dreamy feeling with an arrangement packed full of Chelsea’s favorite DX7, Roland D-50 and Korg M11980s spacey synthesizers that somehow remind us all of the Neverending Story. A classic Princess Chelsea synth arrangement is highlighted by the understated tremolo guitar care of Jonathan Bree, and in true Chelsea fashion, shimmering lightness is used to illuminate darkness when a mandolin signals a glorious sounding coda and she sings ”Truth be told I don't wanna grow old, but I wanna grow old with you.”
“Everything is Going To Be Alright Pt.2”
The closing track, "Everything is Going To Be Alright (Pt.2)," is a bedroom recording made in collaboration with band member Joshua Worthington-Church on guitar and bass, and is an epic 6-minute ode to personal recovery. A twin track (not just in name) to the uneasy album opener it begins as a sparse vocal set against an organ in a minor key. Chelsea hasn’t sounded more sincere or vulnerable when she sings “I think of you sometimes / And it makes me feel blue “. The song then shifts immediately to the second section with cascading vocals set against spacey vintage synths. It eases its way into part three, an introspective and beautiful alt-country-tinged ballad that showcases some technically proficient and beautiful guitar and bass work from Worthington-Church and drums courtesy of Chelsea. Like its twin track and album opener, this album concludes with a vocal canon that, instead of being uneasy, is now powerful and optimistic. This time around, when Chelsea sings “Everything is Going To Be Alright,” we finally believe her. An impressive and honest bookend — Chelsea’s mom says it’s her strongest song to date.
Photos courtesy of the artist