Recommended Tracks: “I Know Who You Are”, “On The Run”, “Without You, Whatever”
Artists You May Like: Autolux, PJ Harvey, Blonde Redhead
When it comes to making a statement, Queen Kwong more than delivers. Her bold and defiant alt-rock music and feisty live performances never fail to get the message across, turning whatever she is feeling into pure art. After going through an ugly divorce, Queen Kwong definitely had a lot to say, transforming the betrayal and the loss into her third album, Couples Only. While the album has been described as a “divorce album,” there is more to behold than fits of rage and torrents of grief; with Couples Only, we get a closer look at what it means to be human and how it feels to live in an ever-changing world.
Fans of alternative music are sure to be impressed with Couples Only, as most of the tracks play by their own rules. We have “EMDR ATM,” for instance, which contains meandering bass, animated guitar, and rousing bursts of percussion that give the track an unyielding energy. There is also the vengeful “No Rules” that best conveys Queen Kwong’s fury through industrial downbeats and fuzzy vocals. Her anger takes on a haunting quality on “Biggest Mistake,” containing intense lyrics and rich layers of sound. Over a futuristic production and eerie piano riffs, Queen Kwong sings, “You’re the biggest mistake I’ve made in a line of regrets, I’d say,” the music enhancing the overall power of the words.
Aside from these bold tracks, there are others on the album that are not as demanding. The reflective “Death In Reverse” is more melodic, with Queen Kwong letting memories from an innocent time overcome her. There is also the romantic “On The Run,” which would be pegged as the “slow dance” song at a party. Its swanky beats and vintage sound make it a dreamy getaway from the more aggressive songs, even if it is about running away from something good. The closing track, “Without You, Whatever,” makes a big impression, as it is the only pop song that Queen Kwong has ever written. The track is a bittersweet listen, as we hear her miss someone that she knows she does not need in her life. As she ruminates, “I try to remind myself that I made my way out / When I’m shutting down inside and I’m having my doubts,” there is a feeling of resilience that comes through, and we know there is life beyond the person she describes.
While the music and lyrics are crucial to the story of Couples Only, Queen Kwong’s vocals are just as essential. For example, the spirit of “Sad Man” would not be as riveting if not for her delivery of the lyrics. She recites lines like “I don’t care about where you got that piece of art” and “I don’t care about your dad’s last name” with a ferocity that brings the plot to life. While this fervor takes on a quieter form on the opening track, “I Know Who You Are,” Queen Kwong’s vocals are just as scathing as she exposes the identity of a former love interest. When we get to “Stanley (RIP),” however, we feel the dynamics of her voice in full. She sings out and does not cover up with special effects, purely living in the moment of the song.
After listening to Couples Only, it is evident that Queen Kwong is a phenomenal creative force. To learn that the album was entirely improvised and recorded on the spot makes her skills all the more impressive. There is so much diversity on this project, from the music to the emotions, that you would never guess that this was not planned out ahead of time. Queen Kwong speaks straight from her heart and reminds us that sometimes the best way to process the effects of a devastating act is to openly live through them – and make one hell of an album.
You can listen to Couples Only on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.