Cruel Youth has premiered their debut EP, +30mg, after releasing three tracks – “Mr. Watson,” “Diamond Days,” and “Hatefuck.” Fans of the band’s front woman, Teddy Sinclair (previously Natalia Kills), will not be disappointed with Cruel Youth’s moody and sexual lyrics that ooze emotion. The EP combines the best of what pop music listeners came to love from Kills but adds a sparkling new addition in being able to more crisply hear Sinclair’s pristine vocals.
Like Teddy Sinclair’s work as Natalia Kills on Perfectionist and Trouble, Cruel Youth sets the mood for +30mg with “Everything Was Beautiful”, a trance-inducing introduction that is less a song and more a hypnotic chant. That’s not to knock the song; it’s effective for capturing Cruel Youth’s sound and enticing you to listen to the rest of +30mg. Like “Perfection” and the opening to “Television” on Perfectionist and Trouble, the song’s strength is in its simplicity. Imagine Cruel Youth on tour, making a grand entrance.
The real music begins on track two with “Alexis Texas”, named after a porn star and provocatively exploring love, sensuality, and dating. A song about one of Sinclair’s first dates with husband Willy Moon, “Alexis Texas” describes an intense and passionate love. Like “Everything Was Beautiful”, it’s hypnotic in its production, with sexual whines layered over Sinclair’s smooth vocals, with intermittent “whoo-hoo’s” giving the song a cheeky and sexual boost.
The lead single for Cruel Youth and +30mg, “Mr. Watson” is a raw and real look at Sinclair’s vocal prowess. It’s a stark contrast to the complicated productions and autotune you’d find on a Natalia Kills record, and “Mr. Watson” knocks it out of the park in proving that Sinclair doesn’t need to hide behind tricks of the trade to let her talent shine.
“I Don’t Love You” sees a change of pace from the usually lovestruck damsel in distress. The track is as cold and remorseless as its lyrics, and while the structure of the song isn’t remarkable and it even comes across a bit boring, there’s a truly brilliant bridge that saves it from being total filler. “Florida Blues” is a bit better off, but both it and “I Don’t Love You” need something more to be memorable. There’s no immediate spark of emotion like “Mr. Watson” or the later “Diamond Days.” Perhaps a visual treatment would manage to bring the tracks to life, but for now, they’re just nice padding on +30mg‘s track list.
By now, it’s clear to see the sound and emotion Cruel Youth aims to provoke, and “Hatefuck” has it down pat. Retreading some of the subject material on Trouble, Teddy Sinclair’s last album as Natalia Kills, “Hatefuck” describes a problematic and abusive relationship that Sinclair has no desire to leave. It’s a very natural progression from Kills to Cruel Youth, and serves in a way to bridge one chapter to the next in Sinclair’s life.
“Diamond Days” closes out +30mg, and the track is a soulful, bluesy number that mourns a love lost. “You were just a fling, a beautiful addition to the valley of my vices,” Sinclair croons. “We’re different people, Adam and Evil.” This is the lyrical stylings that are creative and witty — right at home on Sinclair’s work as Natalia Kills, but her vocals are reminiscent of Amy Winehouse or even Adele – and the track’s production are much less darkpop and much more soulful. Like the rest of the record, it’s a natural progression that feels emotional, palpable, and pretty damn near close to perfection.
Through her many artistic incarnations, Teddy Sinclair has changed genres, sounds and production. Through it all, she’s never managed to lose her signature bad girl charm, her penchant for clever lyrics and ability to evoke true emotion. When it comes to Cruel Youth, she hits the mark in ways that those who have followed her over the years may not expect thanks to tracks like “Mr. Watson” and “Diamond Days” showcasing her vocal talent, something that has tended to take a backseat on previous albums. +30mg melds the best of Sinclair’s past and introduces a new side of her, one that brings beautifully vibrant and talented vocals. Highly recommended.
Purchase +30mg on iTunes. Keep up with Cruel Youth on their official website. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Cruel Youth will be opening for Kiiara at U Street Music Hall on Friday, November 18th. Get tickets here.