Kelela is an R&B singer in the truest sense of the word, and all of her music fits squarely within the genre. But she always manages to find oblique, abstract takes on the genre, singing breathy, sideways vocals over woozily-structured cutting-edge tracks. And Kelela’s new video for “Frontline,” one of the standout tracks from her excellent 2017 album Take Me Apart, reflects that.
The “Frontline” video, which tells the story of a breakup, is an R&B video, and it indulges a lot of the cliches of R&B videos. It’s got a narrative of romantic upheaval, told theatrically, with tears and dramatic gestures. It’s got a fancy car. It’s got a synchronized dance scene. But the twist, of course, is that the whole video is computer-animated to look like a mid-’90s video game, with Kelela and her co-stars existing only as uncanny-valley polygonal creations. There’s some elegant surrealism in there, too.
Kelela shares directing duties with Claudia Matè and Mischa Notcutt, and it’s another entry in what’s quickly becoming one hell of a videography. Like Kelela’s music, her videos combine easy sensuality with deep weirdness. They’re beautifully arresting. Check out “Frontline” below.
Take Me Apart is out now on Warp.