ALBUM REVIEW: RL Kelly – Life’s a Bummer

Kelly made famous some of the best songs ever recorded. Specifically, the United States of America’s (unofficial) national anthem, Ignition (Remix). Today, though, I am not here to talk about R. Kelly, but instead, RL Kelly. RL Kelly is the LA-based project of bedroom pop queen Rachel Levy. Her 2013 EP “Life’s A Bummer” is one of my all-time favorites and makes the perfect soundtrack for the rainy day I’m writing this on.

In the opening track, “You’re Not The Only Monster From Hell” Levy begins with a catchy beat, layered soon after with haunting lo-fi vocals, alternating different phrases with the mantra “let the pain be”. She describes each part of everyday sadness, “day and night got the glooms / let the pain be” and shortly after, “the flowers all grow to die / let the pain be”. This format addresses the importance of accepting and being mindful of one’s sadness and morbidity, all while creating catchy nursery rhymes with sweet and vulnerable vocals.

Her next song, the haunting cover of Alex G’s “Change” encompasses the unconditional love we can feel, how that can be abused, and eventually fuzzed into the background as new experiences take over, whispering “we loved you then / it’s not the same / I don’t like how things change”. Alex G, the Philadelphia lo-fi scene’s (and my) golden boy, is a master of creating deeply personal anthems, that are broad enough to connect with each listener’s loves, losses, and cyclic nature of these experiences, which also clearly struck a chord with Levy. The song quiets and blends seamlessly into the next, a perfect mirroring of the change they’re describing.

Levy’s “I Had A Dream Last Night”, opens with heavenly church organ, and although wordless, listening to it somehow transplants you into a field with people you love, feeling the sun resting on the back of your eyelids, evoking years worth of nostalgia and Spike Jonze romanticism.

Levy somehow conveys all this beauty and complexity from a self-recorded album, filled with sounds of the space bar clicking after she’s done recording each track onto her computer. The purity, vulnerability and beauty of each track coupled with the morbidity, sadness, and haunting nature of each vocal creates a perfect soundtrack to both good and bad times, an experience I’ve enjoyed since its release.

-Ellie Eiger