From the dark and industrial-tinted opening notes of “I Know Who You Are,” it’s clear that Queen Kwong‘s new album comes from a place that’s intensely personal and equally powerful. Throughout eleven tracks, Queen Kwong (née Carré Kwong Callaway) unleashes a visceral howl of pain, rage, grief, sorrow, and ultimately, closure. It’s the soundtrack to the longest night of your life, the one that continues to motivate you forward until the first glint of the dawn you never thought would come.
There’s the fury at being wronged on “EDMR ATM” (“Gave up the baby and the home wrecker won / She took the house and you had your fun”), a reflection on the vindictive nature of deceit in “Giver Taker Faker” (“Make me a God, give me your grace / We’ll call it even when you fall on your face”), and the peace that comes with acceptance, as seen on the closer, “Without You, Whatever.” Overall, Couples Only is a stirring experience from start to finish and one that will resonate with anyone who has been cut, scraped, bruised, or beaten (metaphorically or literally) during their journey in life.
Though made during three weeks of improvisation – nothing was pre-written lyrically or musically, and everything was recorded on the spot – Couples Only essentially began in 2018, when Carré was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Two months after that, her marriage fell apart, and she was left homeless with nothing but a suitcase and two guitars.
“Initially, I felt making Couples Only was my only way to call out wrongdoers, punch them in the throat and let them know that I know who they really are,” Queen Kwong tells HollywoodLife. “But, now that the record is out in the world, I realize my intentions for it are deeper and bigger than that. Even though the details of the songs are extremely personal to me, anyone who has lived through adversity can relate to the emotions behind them. I want Couples Only to connect with those people and reassure them that those emotions are valid.”
Couples Only is Queen Kwong’s first album since 2018’s Love Me to Death. In the years between projects, Carré took a break to focus on projects outside the music realm. She graduated from university, founded an all-natural skincare line called B A T H C U L T, launched the Never Meet Your Idols podcast, and appeared in the American Primitive film series Quarentina.
For Couples Only, Carré teamed with a collection of renowned musicians to capture this impressive and emotional music. Roger O’Donnell of The Cure joined in on keys and synths, along with Swans’ Kristof Hahn (lap steel) and Blood Red Shoes’ Laura-Mary Carter (backing vocals). Carré also worked closely with Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line, and Tchad Blake (Arctic Monkeys, Elvis Costello, Fiona Apple) who oversaw the album’s mixing.
Couples Only is out on streaming now. Pre-order the vinyl LP here.