"Although three years in the making, it’s increasingly hard to hear this or any album without 2017 ears. In the wake of Trump’s despicable first few weeks, I found myself listening more and more to a playlist I’d constructed of intensely melancholy music, realizing that I’d done so because I hadn’t yet given myself permission to be sad. The main takeaway I get from listening to Tears in the Club on repeat is the overwhelming feeling of “you can’t go home again”. “Something’s gotta give right now,” Syd says. SZA takes this a step further saying, “I’ll be into you even when you ain’t around me / I’ll be missing you even when you been around me.” For every transcendent feeling of closeness in the clubs this year, there’ll be plenty others where one couldn’t feel any more distant from who’s standing right next to you. The urgency of being here now vs. the creeping sense of slowly becoming an island haunts this moment, with our interconnected sociality simultaneously culling common causes and confirming our isolationist biases.
Walking back into the club after having all that’s on Kingdom’s mind is like getting jolted by the nightmare trap of “Tears in the Club”. It’s all darkness and anxiety now. Its visceral grip is as pulsatingly real as it is synthetic. The escape that the naïve EDM pop that the turn of the decade offered now seems like the infamous K.C. Green strip “On Fire”, the flames burning around us as the nihilistic fatalism of #YOLO truly sinks in. The only way through is forward, and we’ll need plenty of forward-thinking pop to help with that. We’ll need lots of songs that can help reform the bonds of community that a club can offer, and which pop can alleviate. Solidarity in suffering, a shared loneliness. We can’t deny ourselves the right to be sad any more than we can deny ourselves the right to dance. Kingdom’s album confronts this from a place that, if not deeply personal, at least feels so. "
Forgot to link off to the review I wrote of Kingdom's excellent new LP Tears in the Club, which I'm shocked isn't getting more play right now. To me, it's a huge evolution, though looking around it doesn't seem like many other critics are able to get past the structure, or were able to identify much of its concept. Like other long players from the Fade/Slugs set, it's sort of obtuse and requires a deep listen. I remember Classical Curves, which blew me away on first listen, getting relatively middling reviews when released. In fact, I was only one of five critics who even voted for it in Pazz and Jop at the end of the year, though it's widely heralded as earth-shifting in the experimental dance circuit.
I was also delighted to read this Fader profile and see that much of what I had (admittedly) read into the album was intended.
Tangentially, also worth checking out Syd's Fin, which was on Bandcamp until recently, but it seems to have been taken down.