Annot(e)tations is a column by Austin Nguyen that shines a light on the hidden gems of recently released albums or singles that may have flown under your radar. This week, he discusses Chela’s “Delivery.”
From ARIA-charting artist Vera Blue to Post Malone opener Mallrat, Australia has been churning out the pop royalty of tomorrow throughout the last decade, and the next queen in line for the throne? Chela, the Filipina-Australian with more than 20 million total streams on Spotify who has been covered by major music publications from the FADER to NPR.
After releasing her “Delivery” EP in November, the singer born Chelsea Wheatley is currently preparing to close out 2019 by touring Australia in support of Gus Dapperton. But for now, she shares the spotlight with two holographic, sequin-hatted dancers in the music video for her record’s title track.
Directed by Chela herself with the help of Director of Photography Stefan Duscio, the music video was conceptualized while the singer was penning the lyrics to “Delivery.”
“I wanted to create that same sense of longing, loneliness yet hopefulness I sing about in the song with the visual,” Chela said in a press release. “The idea is that the perfect person for us may exist in another realm, another era, so the music video is set in roughly 2069.”
And as such, the dimly-lit night lounge in the music video feels like it could’ve been screenshotted from an episode of “Black Mirror” (specifically the social anxiety and compact-mirror-sized phones of “Nosedive”) colored with “Blue Velvet”-esque hedonism.
Well, that is, until Chela beams down and turns the scene into a silent disco reverie — the sort of soundtrack you could spazz around and scream the lyrics to for a bedroom jam session.
Picking up where HAIM’s “Something To Tell You” left off, an electric guitar hook opens up the song, a brief pause separating the scales of the intro as if two lovers had held each other’s gaze across a hallway in passing and time were momentarily frozen.
Life snaps back into place though once Chela’s voice begins the verse with the wonders of love’s kismet: “You’re a guest / Arriving on your own / A chance.”
There’s a current of nervous tension beneath each word — the rhythm of a fluttering heart within the bass line’s syncopation and the way it jolts out, jumping the beat — but that sensation becomes impossible to hide, the flooding warmth of a blush, in the pre-chorus as the arpeggiated production climbs up and up before sparks fly: The chorus has arrived.
It’s a synth overload, with chords in the rear view mirror zooming forward and eighth notes twinkling in the night sky for an explosion of Carly Rae Jepsen euphoria, saturated with all its technicolor hues. And Chela’s vocal performance, an amalgamation of cyborg and human timbre à la Caroline Polachek, is just as vivid.
“I prepare for delivery / I know you’ll be there,” Chela belts in the first half with the subtext of a confident wink, but her higher register sounds more sentimental, the words being sung through an aching smile: “And all the best / Times are yet to come / And I know you’ll understand.”
After another verse and chorus finish up, the bridge comes along, propelled by the metronomic ticking of a cymbal and the melodic flourishes of a synth.
Empty space lingers between each iteration of “That could be us / If only you’ll find me,” as if Chela is wishing upon a shooting star, a montage of grocery shopping, movie outings, and boba dates flashing by, love so close yet so far away. But she clings onto it, celebrates it exuberantly in the last chorus.
This is the world of pop, alongside its intersection with electronica and alt-rock, condensed into a glitter-filled snowglobe. Call it over the top, extra, or too much, but regardless of what you say, it’s right where Chela belongs — a place where each moment is coated in a magical iridescence.
A note: This is the FIRST EVER submission to feature on the Annot(e)tations column. Thank you to Sean Kayden of Fancy PR for passing this opportunity along to me, and if any readers ever have a song you would like to see me cover, feel free to email me with your suggestions at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.