Exactly a week ago, avant-R&B thriller Kelela finally unveiled plans for her debut album, and with them came a brilliant new single, “LMK.” We didn’t know this at its time of release, but the song was produced by Arca, an electronic artist who usually doesn’t need another genre’s name subbed in for the “garde” part of “avant-garde,” unless he’s tempering his weirder impulses for collaborators such as Kanye West and FKA Twigs. On “LMK,” he does a bang-up job of re-imagining the ‘90s through a futuristic lens, an artistic endeavor that has become Kelela’s calling card.
Arca also served as co-producer on Björk’s last album, Vulnicura, and coincidentally (or not), the new “LMK” video is directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, who did videos for two Vulnicura tracks. The new clip instantly outs itself as a throwback, from the Hype Williams-style colors, textures, camera angles, and occasional fisheye lens, right down to the tiny sunglasses Kelela sports. The whole thing is pretty contained, with the location mostly limited to a couple of hallways, but thanks to beautifully executed lighting and choreography, the end result is a dazzling microcosm of neon popping, locking, and dropping.
In a press release, Huang described the “LMK” video as a showcase for the “multiplicity of who Kelela is and who she has the potential to be,” referencing the multiple wigs she wears before appearing wigless in the final scene. This visual metaphor dovetails nicely with the song’s empowering lyrics, and considering the hairstyle choices of said wigs, it also befits the video’s shiny suit era mimicry.
Kelela’s debut album, Take Me Apart, is out October 6th on Warp.