A slick indie pop album that further establishes Straus as a Gen Z icon
Adam England
10:46 27th July 2022

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We’re approaching three years since King Princess’ debut album, 2019’s Cheap Queen, was released, and a hell of a lot has changed since then. In a new world, Mikaela Straus releases her follow-up, Hold On Baby.

On the album, King Princess works with Mark Ronson, as well as twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. The latter's influence is evident, not least on ‘Change The Locks’ which begins in soft indie ballad territory before kicking in in heartbreaking fashion.

The result is a slick indie pop album that further establishes Straus as a Gen Z icon. In some ways, Hold On Baby can feel like an ode to queer love and queer relationships, but it’s often introspective and deals with identity – what’s it like being in your early twenties and trying to navigate this brave new world? 

Of the 12 tracks on the album, five have already been released as singles – something that’s commonplace in the streaming age. But while almost half of the album is already with us, there’s still plenty of fresh material to get stuck into, all with Straus wearing their heart on their sleeve.

“It’s a curse to be your friend/Yeah and it’s a curse to be alone”, Straus sings on single ‘Cursed’, a self-described “toxic friendship anthem” with Haim-esque backing vocals and a Kate Bush influence. ‘Winter is Hopeful’ combines down-tempo beats with hopeful lyrics: “Quinn, oh Quinn/I love you”, Straus sings, addressing her partner, Quinn Whitney Wilson.

On ‘Little Bother’, Straus brings in alt-soul singer Fousheé. With both artists known for mixing and experimenting with genre, it becomes a lively indie track – one of the rockier moments on the album. 

There’s rarely a dull moment here, from the atmospheric ‘Dotted Lines’ with its almost witch house chorus, to the indie R&B of ‘For My Friends’. It’s sometimes melancholic, sometimes hopeful, and flows beautifully, Straus mastering the art of melding different styles together from track-to-track in a way that’s almost enchanting. 

I want this album to give you all some strength in accepting ourselves; as chaotic as we can be,” says Straus of Hold On Baby. If that’s the aim, they’re sure to have succeeded. 

Hold On Baby arrives 29 July via Zelig Records.

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