"The album is like a collage of all of the worst memories and worst mistakes I've ever made," says the 26-year-old singer.
Want a preview of Natalia Kills' sophomore album "Trouble" before its Sept. 3 release on Will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope Records? Just take a gander at its striking artwork:
The U.K. singer-songwriter personally stuffed a bunch of goodies into that breathtaking image, and every detail in the artwork -- from the Rolex wrapped around a lipstick case to the pink liquid bleeding down the sides of the square -- represents a different lyrical theme in the tight, edgy follow-up to her 2011 debut, "Perfectionist."
"The album is like a collage of all of the worst memories and worst mistakes I've ever made," the singer tells Billboard. "I wanted the cover to be a real collage of all of the items and articles and moments that I talk about in the album… I got all of the different objects and had to print them out on photo paper and then physically cut them out and make the whole collage."
The first sound one hears on "Trouble" is the wailing of a police siren, and from there, the 26-year-old singer presents a hypnotic, 53-minute retrospective of her various life troubles over dark, swirling pop production. There are references to an awkward childhood -- the singer's Jamaican father and Uruguayan mother were constantly moving from place to place, and often clutching bottles of champagne during the turbulence -- and her experience of "trying to be a grown-up and just making a fucking mess of it." Kills says that her favorite track on the album is the thumping love song "Daddy's Girl," which samples Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" and explores her mother's devotion to her father while he was in prison.
"I’m 26 now and I kind of get it," she says of her mother's decision to remain supportive. "There’s a lyric in the song where I’m saying, 'Let them take it all the way / The sweet Rozay, the Cartier/ Stop the warden, call your name / I’d give you all my freedom, babe.' It’s basically like, I’d trade all of these luxurious things we’ve ever had just to have you come back to me. So that’s what the champagne and Rolex symbolizes on the cover."
Kills admits that the version of herself presented on "Trouble" wasn't wholly accessible on "Perfectionist," which carried a lighter tone and has sold 14,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "When I made my first album, I was not as aware of... how I was," she carefully explains."The whole album was about me having dreams and wanting everything to perfect, when everything was not. I almost had a bit of fear where everybody wants to be loved, everybody wants to be understood in a way that’s not full of judgment or blame. So I put all of myself into the album and then [kept] bits out – it’s not lying, it’s just selective truth-ing, if you know what I mean.
"I feel with this album… I'm confronting and marking down every bad thing, and making that into something important," she continues, "because all that bad stuff, it stays with you, it defines you, it changes you. Whether it’s through strength or apprehension, through fear and hesitation or defiance and overcoming, it never leaves you. And I wanted to confront who I am and who I’ve been and everything that made me why I am how I am head-on -- and most of it's bad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good music, good intentions, good entertainment, even."
Recorded in New York and Los Angeles, "Trouble" features collaborations with producers Jeff Bhasker and Emile Haynie, and has been previewed by the tracks "Problem" and "Saturday Night." Click here to watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip on the "Problem" music video, which has scored 1.1 million YouTube views to date.
Before next month's album release, Kills says that she will perform most of the new album at an official after-party for the MTV Video Music Awards, taking place in Brooklyn on Aug. 25. "I'm working hard towards making something on stage that is remotely accurate to what the [artwork] is and what the songs sound like," she says.