KIMCHEERECORDS.COM - Home page HOME - kimcheerecords.com CATALOG - Complete listing of Kimchee CDs, singles, LPs BANDS - Artists available on Kimchee LISTEN - Download songs WHO WE ARE - Kimchee's Mission & what it means for you CONTACT - How to reach Kimchee PRESS - Resources for the press  
kimcheerecords.com / catalog / kc028 / reviews

Paula Kelley - The Trouble with Success or How You Fit into the World

Reviews

Logo Magazine (UK)

Those of you who that have heard Kelley's last album, Nothing/Everything, will be glad to know that, as good as that album was, in retrospect it has merely served as a warmup to what we have before us now. This disc is replete with the kind of lush, melancholic songs that made The Zombies' Odyssey And Oracle the landmark disc that it is. Unlike many artists who fully utilize the computer age by injecting as many artificial devices as they can, Kelley is accompanied by a full orchestral complement on several of these tracks. Her voice is yin and yang rolled into one; a girlish exterior which belies a depth and maturity not found in most contemporary practitioners of the "new easy listening" genre, and the band is clearly up to the task of backing her. As examples, "Could There Be Another World" contains a mournful beauty not unlike that of The Pernice Brothers, "I'd Fall In Love Again" features some soulful strings, "The Girlfriend" is ultra-Bacharachian, and "September Eyes" cheekily lifts the opening of that classic tale of despair, "Walk Away Renee," while offering a quirky twist on that emotion. All in all, The Trouble with Success or How You Fit into the World is a wonderful disc that will become a comforting, nurturing friend during those forlorn times we all go through.

>>> logo-magazine.com


Aiding & Abetting

Paula Kelley cut her teeth with the Drop Nineteens, then shot through Hot Rod and Boy Wonder before finally recording her first bona-fide solo album a couple years ago. All that preparation certainly prepared her for this album, one of the most astonishing pop albums I've heard in some time.

And don't get me wrong. This is pop as in "pop," Burt Bacharach and Carole King and all that. Kelley draws on sounds from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even this new century as she assembles these gorgeous confections. Yeah, it helps that she's got one of those "tough little girl" voices, one that has a lot more strength than might be imagined.

Production is key on an album like this. No matter how good the songs or how fine the performances, it's still awfully easy to screw things up in the booth. Kelley took the reins herself, and she delivers a dreamy, bouncy sound that perfectly frames her songs.

The craftsmanship alone is astonishing. The final result is such that all the hard work that went into making the album is well-hid behind the final sound. This album is a grabber from the first line, and it becomes more addictive with each successive song. Wonderful.

>>> cent.com/abetting


Indieworkshop

Smart pop albums intrigue me more and more with every listen. It seems to me that they would be extraordinarily hard to create. Because what is pop really? Essentially pop makes money, it brings to mind teen idols and catchy, sing-a-long choruses. It takes a "smart pop album" to reach beyond that and find something deeper to grab hold of until, with all it's effort and strength, it can pull itself through all the muck and filler to reach the other side of the pop spectrum; irresistible hooks, infectious melodies and musical depth. Wait; did I just say "musical depth" in reference to a pop album? Why yes, thanks for asking, I sure did.

I would say if you involve a backing of 38 musicians, which includes an orchestra and a choir, you're not only ambitious and intelligent but you really have a clear picture of exactly what you aim to create. I mean seriously, as Britney Spears was quoted saying, "Anyone can sit down and write boring artistic songs. Pop music is the hardest stuff to write." Well, I would imagine that Paula Kelley would agree with Ms. Spears in regards to her second solo album, The Trouble with Success or How You Fit into the World. Not only that but would Britney be impressed that Kelley has created a pop album that is both artistic and qualifies as pop? Hard to say, but the little man in my head says, "I doubt it."

Regardless, what Paula Kelley and her many friends have blessed us with is in fact impressive. The result is a huge, layered album full of variety and class and many moods and emotions, all fronted by Kelley's adorably sweet and charming voice. Add a little of The Cardigan's album Life, the sweet-side of the sassy, sexy Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, take the rock aspect away from Juliana Hatfield and maybe add some Frente just for the heck of it all and you might be close. But, you haven't yet thrown in the symphony. Which symphony, I don't know, it doesn't matter; pick one.

Paula Kelley has reached the other side, and the former front woman of the 90's shoegazer band the Drop Nineteens and indie poppers Boy Wonder, sounds like a natural at the helm of this orchestration. It's huge and small, simple and complex, humble and confident all at the same time. So, what's on the other side of cookie-cutter, corporate pop? Paula Kelley, a pop songstress with a quiet voice and big music.and her anything but boring, artistic "pop" songs.

>>> indieworkshop.com


Brainwashed

There's something about the picture of Paula Kelley on the back of her new release. She's staring out at you with deep, dark eyes, her hand obscuring the rest of her face but revealing a coy, coquettish nature to her. I can't help but think of this image as the trailer poster for some grand Broadway production, especially with the album's title with subtitle. The music within only deepens the imaginary conceit, as it is replete with lush orchestration and soaring vocals. Ladies and gentlemen, Paula Kelley, spotlights please. She's ready for her close up, so everybody quiet down. "A New Time" begins with a clipping acoustic guitar and Kelley laying down the exposition of love like "warm August breezes" and starlight filling her face with possibility. But there is also another side to the story, one of doubt and miscommunication that threatens to bring the strings out of their gentle harmony, all-crashing down in dissonant cacophony. Luckily, the song never falls apart, but rather perseveres through its delightful duration. "Could There Be Another World" comes on in a full Burt Bacharach attack, with a full orchestra of strings, horns, harp and a ten-person choir to accompany Kelley's majestic voice that slips over every lyric in warm, breathy tones. "I will take myself more seriously this time," she declares, as we all should. I see Kelley as the female lead, who's relentless struggle to succeed through adversity and resolve the bonds of a lost love has still not dampened the bright-eyed, glorious optimism that lies beneath the stormy head, and comes out in the immense walls of sound that her players (yes, it's her orchestra as denoted in the liner) weave along her world-weary yet passionate words. When Paula sings the chorus to "I'll Fall In Love With Anyone" and the band pauses for a series of drawn out staccato notes, the heart just breaks right in half from how gorgeous it sounds. The tune pushes the emotion to its climax and delves deep inside for a personally affecting performance. "How Many Times" takes the big band aspect to the background letting Paula showcase her own abilities. This is the true spotlight song, as the house lights can almost be seen dimming as the pit fades to black and the singer becomes ringed by the bright, white bulb. Her raw vocal capabilities are wonderful on their own, and coupled with an impeccable knack for phrasing and really casting feeling and power into those words, she has the potential to be amazingly uplifting or evocatively devastating. She sounds like a modern Dusty Springfield on the end of "The Rest of You," modulating those notes with remarkable song craft. It's a blend of original talent and musical appreciation. Of all the tracks, "My Finest Hour" appears as the most straightforward rock song, though it is still supported by dueling trumpets and choral background vocals that give tremendous weight to the speed and impact of the song. Enough cannot be said of how well this album achieves its goals, with every piece of this large undertaking finding their roles and relishing in them. The Trouble With Success is an absolutely stunning display of musicianship and ambitious concept done right, reaching as high as can be reached and pushing it even higher. Paula Kelley's the star of this show, and I'm starting to think that underneath that hand, she's hiding a little smile.

>>> brainwashed.com


All Music Guide

The Trouble With Success or How You Fit into the World finds ex-Drop Nineteens/Boy Wonder vocal darling Paula Kelley moving beyond the cute factors of her Nothing/Everything debut for a divine pop effort. She and musician Eric Matthews craft a sophisticated set that's both classic in Baroque pop and indie pop to showcase Kelley's lovely imagination. It's a daring move. Going for Burt Bacharach-like stylings without it all sounding contrived is a task; however, Kelley succeeds. Joining her is a backing section of nearly 40 musicians known as the PK Orchestra. Each song is bright in instrumental color and spirit and Kelley's angelic, girlish vocals leave you swooning. Basically, The Trouble With Success can be anyone's autobiographical tale of fighting fit and Kelley's storybook of "My Finest Hour" experiences the many waves of personal introspection. "How Many Times" is a wonderful ballad dressed in acoustic guitars and violins for one of the album's shinier occasions. "I'd Fall in Love" gushes about the obvious with a glorious horn section for Kelley's best Carole King moment. It won't take long to realize that The Trouble With Success is one of those albums that's thankful for pop music while flattering it at the same time. Kelley doesn't lose sight of that. She has achieved her "finest hour" on this one.

>>> allmusic.com


Babysue

Smooth and beautiful girlpop. Paula Kelley was formerly with Drop Nineteens, Hot Rod, and Boy Wonder...but is now off on her own. After obviously paying her dues...Ms. Kelley comfortably displays her real talents here...as a solo artist. The Trouble With Success is a lovely album, merging pop elements from the 1960s all the way through to the present...with the single identifying thread being Ms. Kelley's wonderfully smooth vocals. Some of the compositions are basic guitar pop...while others feature orchestral elements and lush background vocals. The fresh, upbeat sound of this album is almost impossible to dislike. Instead of sounding like a jaded artist who has turned bitter with time...Paula sings with the enthusiasm of a woman who has just recorded her first album. In a word...this album is... groovy (!). Features thirteen cool cuts including "My Finest Hour," "The Rest of You," and "Where Do You Go." Wonderfully inviting. (Rating: 5)

>>> babysue.com


Delusions of Adequacy

Lofty, grandiose, perfect pop.

Paula Kelley has had her share of playing in reputable indie bands. She combined punk and shoegazing with the Drop Nineteens, rocked out with Jack Drag in Hot Rod, and went in a purely pop direction with Boy Wonder. She went solo and received some critical acclaim for her 2001 debut Nothing/Everything, but it could be seen that all those years with all those projects really led up to The Trouble with Success. Because it's on this album of grandiose pop that Kelley has fully matured and created her nearly perfect pop masterpiece.

At the center of The Trouble with Success, of course, is Kelley, with her playfully cute vocals and her light pop sensibility. On her own, she would make a fun album, one in which even the darker tone of her lyrics will have you singing along with a goofy smile. But here she is joined by 38 musicians throughout the course of the album, including, at times, a full orchestra. There are so many strings, keys, horns, and assorted instrumentation here that it would blow a lesser arrangement out of the water. But even with all those elements, it's Kelley herself who shines, and she keeps her feet firmly planted in pop song territory despite the loftiness of her compositions.

The light and playfully bounce "A New Time" would be catchy enough with its light beat and swiftly strummed acoustic guitars, but it's the strings and rich backing vocals that build the song into something much more complex yet no less enjoyable. Kelley feels perfectly at home following up the softer, ballad-like "Could There Be Another World" with the subtly funky groove of the 70s pop styled "The Girlfriend." You can hear a definite sense of the rock background on "My Finest Hour," which still adds in some nice horns and jangly guitars to spice things up. "Friday Came" is a nice, softer pop song, and Kelley's voice sounds even sweeter when accompanied by the piano and electric guitar.

The album's most striking moment is surely "I'd Fall in Love with Anyone," the track on which Kelley is joined by a full orchestra: horns, strings, and all. They provide the perfect accompaniment for the song's basic core of Kelley's sweet voice singing rather bitter lyrics and her soft piano. And the horns on "Where Do You Go" are just brilliant, evoking great, soaring images by the song's beautiful ending. The only moments that don't work as well for me are Kelley's quieter songs, the kind of dreamy ballads like "How Many Times" that are sweet and a nice break but, to me, feel like just a delay until the next pop song.

Anyone who followed Paula Kelley's career - and I have to admit to touching only on Drop Nineteens and Boy Wonder before now - has the chance to watch a gifted musician mature and hone her skills. On this release, she has come to age and created one of those rare albums that can simply be defined pop in the purest sense of the word. Like the best albums, it defies pigeonholing and placement in a certain era. She should be applauded for this album.

>>> adequacy.net


Mundane Sounds

Paula Kelley, who was a member of a few merely OK indie-rock bands, has come out of the gate with a monster of a record. Though she may say otherwise, The Trouble With Success Or How You Fit Into The World is an excellent big-band pop record, simply because it's full of more pop hooks than many baroque-pop bands, nor does it have the overwhelming taste of artistic pretension, either. Unlike other bands in this genre, she's producing Bacharach pop via Everything But the Girl, and she's saving the Brian Wilsonisms for Brian Wilson; the result is a wonderful little record, full of charms and quaint moments that are uniquely Kelley's. Every track is an utter joy, every song is wonderfully loaded down with sticky-pop joy.

Her voice is the first thing you notice. Her sweet, sneaky little girl crooning is utterly reassuring, magical and charming, you can't help but get a big grin on your face from the first notes of "A New Time." Don't be too quick, though, because some of these songs--such as "Could There Be Another World?" and "How Many Times" could make the nearest emo kid turn their water works on. Luckily, the sadness is tempered with UTTERLY GORGEOUS arrangements, beautiful singing, and an overwhelming shower of aural pleasures. In that way, she differs from many of the baroque-pop bands lurking about these days, as said bands seem to be stuck on a happy-happy-joy-joy mode, and often lose a lot of the basic, simple pop structure that makes The Trouble With Success so wonderful. Heck, the way things are going, "baroque pop" will become the refuge of the washed-out, barely-very-good Elephant-6 wannabe crowd.

Boy Wonder, Hot Rod, and Drop Nineteens--all bands had their moments, but all of them seemed a bit off; something seemed to be missing from them, and now it's quite obvious what it was that was missing: Paula Kelley's full potential. This is the record we all knew she could make, one that found Kelley's voice being allowed to actually do something. Personally, I never found her earlier groups to be terribly satisfying, because I knew that Kelley was capable of better. Now that Kelley and company have really reached inside and produced a lovely, sunny masterpiece, it will be interesting hearing where the future will lead her. Not that we should be looking ahead; there's plenty of beauty to be found in >i>The Trouble With Success. It's no doubt one of the best records of the year, and certainly the most surprisingly wonderful albums of the year. Ignore this one at your own peril.

>>> mundanesounds.com


Skratch Magazine

The sophomore solo release from indie chanteuse Paula Kelley is a brilliant piece of unpretentious musical magic. Kelley, who played with such bands as the Drop Nineteens, Hot Rod, and Boy Wonder in the '90s, has found a perfect vision of her music in the new millennium. The drop-dead gorgeous young lady has a rather thin voice, but uses her unique musical ability and terrific arrangements to showcase her memorable tunes. These songs are something of an early-'60s throwback, recalling singers like Melanie and Lulu. The one thing that separates Kelley from nearly every other female singer is her ability to play nearly every instrument on the planet. At any one time on this disc she is playing a harpsichord, various guitars, chamberlain flutes, tambourine, piano, and a Hammond organ. Kelley had even put together a rather large orchestra and choir to back her on some of the tunes. Some musicians fail through timidity, bowing to peer pressure and never realizing their true potential. Paula Kelley reaches for the stars with her new album. She winds up creating a disc that sounds as if it were from another planet, if not another (better) universe.

>>> skratchmagazine.com


Jersey Beat

Lush, lovely, and lavishly orchestrated, this extraordinarily stately and accomplished pop confection is beautiful and breathtaking in equal measure. 38 musicians in all contributed to the delectably dulcet, delicate, and richly textured arrangements, creating a gracefully harmonic and densely layered sound that's as timeless, ageless, and impeccable as the best classical music. Paula Kelley's sweet, soothing, and gloriously exuberant voice likewise casts a similarly beguiling and irresistible spell, expressing joy, heartbreak, and regret with both endearingly giddy aplomb and deeply moving directness. You won't hear any complaints from yours truly on the often smart 'n' sappy lyrics, either (sample line: "She's got an ample ego from all the saps she's won"). An exquisitely intricate, opulent, and damn bloody gorgeous symphonic pop marvel.

>>> jerseybeat.com


The Boston Globe

Paula Kelley started out in a cacophonous alt-rock band, Boston's Drop Nineteens, and has since served in Hot Rod and Boy Wonder. She is a multi-instrumentalist and has an unusual voice, one wrapped in a girl-ish quality that seldom escapes notice. But her 2001 release, Nothing/Everything, hinted at her talent as an arranger, a gift amply confirmed by her latest CD. With keyboards and background voices, Kelley has created a pop-rock landscape of sonic wonders. "A New Time," which follows a gothic intro, provides the first example with celestial oohs and ahs from the delightful Paula Kelley Choir. It contains the line "Your love is like a warm August breeze." Not much later, though, the lyrics darken. Another song asks, "How many times must I throw the line/Before this tiny ship comes crashing to the shore?" Kelley's melodies and stylings suggest influences from Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, and the "girl groups" of the '60s Red Bird record label. Instruments come and go -- a harpsichord is on the first two cuts, a vibraphone pops up later. On five tracks, the supportive 20-member PK Orchestra plays accompaniments arranged by Kelley and Matthew Tap. The Trouble with Success ought to bring smiles to a lot of faces.

>>> boston.com



Last modified: Friday, 25-Jun-2010 14:16:40 PDT

kimcheerecords.com   [ Catalog | Bands | Listen | Who we are | Contact | Press ]