Janette King’s latest EP 143 is a to-the-point compilation of love songs exploring the highs and lows of romantic relationships. King’s sonic jaunts range from the heartwarmingly immediate and bubbly hip-hop inspired “Love Another” to more dance-ready tracks like “Fool” that lean into the territory of techno and chillwave. The musical diversity across this EP’s five songs show not only King’s range of emotion, but her creative pliability as a vocalist.
King’s mellow vocal swoons complement the range of styles and instrumental voices heard on 143. Various producers appear on this EP, lending to a more organic—albeit jarring— way of achieving a diverse sound. Each song on this compilation could stand on its own, giving 143 a compilation or mixtape feel, although the songs are thematically connected. Each producer brings something new into the mix for King to play with and, much to her credit, slay. For instance, BrotherNature’s smooth R&B production on “Love Another” exudes a warmth with low organ-like synth pads and vintage 808’s while the very next track, “In Vain”, produced by Jordan Esau and kelpie. pushes a more hi-fi chillwave approach with bright claps and cutting, dreamy guitar licks. Both sounds, although distinct, bring out King’s versatility.
King’s emotional connection to her music is all too apparent on this release. According to King, “143” is code for “I Love You”. The EP explores love– from the addictive rush of desire on “I Need Love” to feeling let down and betrayed on “Fool.” King acknowledges that love is just as personal as it is communal, and the dichotomy between unity and heartbreak is pencil thin. “Love Another” shines through with King’s beautiful catchy hook, “don’t wanna be/don’t wanna be/I don’t wanna be led on”, delivered in a silky smooth staccato vocal rhythm. King’s performances evoke the sense of love the lyrics suggest, delicate, but clear and defined.
Listening to songs so cuttingly honest renders the listener allayed into a state of acceptance– that the struggles King’s smooth slow burns present are real, necessary, and unavoidable matters of the heart. These moments sometimes require careful introspection and King provides us with a place to acknowledge, sit with, and conquer these matters of the heart.