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‘Take Me Apart’ review: Kelela’s debut offers pulsating R&B

Kelela's debut album,

Kelela's debut album, "Take Me Apart," offers an alluring take on traditional R&B. Photo Credit: Warp

KELELA

“Take Me Apart”

BOTTOM LINE A stunning debut from the R&B singer with a love for electronic music.

Kelela combines the warmth of old-school R&B with the cool of electronic beats to create a modern mix that is immediately memorable on her debut album, “Take Me Apart” (Warp), placing her at the forefront of the growing ranks of alt-R&B singers, that include her pal Solange and newcomer SZA.

The allure of Kelela is stunningly simple. Sure, Janet Jackson singing an album of Björk songs may sound like an impossible dream, but Kelela takes that concept to the next level.

“Turn to Dust” finds her at her most vulnerable, as she declares, “One look at you and I turn to dust,” in a voice that’s both pretty and breathy, made even more dramatic by the spare Björkish electronic soundscape that it controls — spare bass notes, string flourishes and echoes that are at her command. Her vocals are more potent on the first single “LMK,” as she demands an answer about a potential hookup, made even more insistent by an undeniable groove.

“Why are you testing me?” she demands in the opener “Frontline,” before systematically showing why resistance is futile. Kelela has arrived.

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