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Kelela’s New Track “Frontline” Is a Shape-Shifting Slow Burner

“It’s a race against time, and you’re on the frontline”

by Patrick Lyons

Since it debuted last year, HBO’s Insecure has become a nationwide sensation, not just as a show, but also as a curator of music. Creator/star Issa Rae carefully selects a handful of tracks for each episode, and after airing, they find their way onto the many Spotify playlists affiliated with the show. Some of these are by bigger names like Kendrick Lamar and Drake, but alongside the hits sit more under-the-radar gems, making the show and its playlists a huge platform for young artists and a major source of music discovery for viewers.

With all of that in mind, it was only a matter of time before artists started premiering new material on Insecure, as it’s clearly ascended to the heights of shows like The O.C. that first started that practice. On the most recent episode, future-pop diva-in-waiting Kelela used the opportunity to drop a second track off of her upcoming album, Take Me Apart.

Preceded by the buoyant “LMK” (and its Hype Williams-esque video), “Frontline” is a shape-shifting slow burner, taking its time with introducing a beat, but blasting off as soon as it does so. These patient fluctuations between beatless and drum-led passages persist as the song progresses, the former highlighting Kelela’s impeccable harmonizing and the latter her rhythmic gifts. As with “LMK,” “Frontline” discusses relationships as though they’re objectives in a Blade Runner video game, this time portraying a fast-closing window of opportunity with the hook, “It’s a race against time, and you’re on the frontline”

“Frontline” is slated to be track one on Take Me Apart, and with “LMK” sitting squarely in the middle of the fourteen-track album, there’s still plenty of unknown territory on there that’ll have a tough time living up to these two phenomenal singles. Knowing Kelela and her team of producers though, we’re guessing she’s up to the task.

Take Me Apart is out October 6th via Warp Records


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Patrick Lyons is a music writer based in Portland who is equally enthralled by black metal and Southern rap-- catch him making maddeningly eclectic choices on the aux cord.



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