Album Review: Kitty – “The Dark Age”
Posted: by The Editor
It’s been almost seven months since the world turned its blinking hazard lights on, and everything we knew shifted into a tidal wave labeled: Pandemic. We’ve internalized the tailspin of society to the point where it represents the new normal. A deep-dive into an unknown full of uncertainties, anxieties, and temporaries. A world of so much rupturing hate and despair that continues to inflate, that it shouldn’t be strange to discover people are desperately seeking outlets to escape. Anything to give them peace of mind for just a moment as they catch their breath. A distraction for a weary traveler living through the modern dark ages.
And, it’s artists like French/British singer, Kitty, that has seemed to provide their own corner of the music-sphere that allows for an almost instant immersion away from the swallows of reality. A dark-pop musician who understands and indulges the blackened tinge of life this past year, she’s figured out a structure on her debut LP, The Dark Age, that brings light through even the heaviest subject matter.
Blossoming in 2016, Kitty has been around the music scene a time or two, earning a small but fierce cult-like following that has helped her release prior works like hit-single “Monaco” and completely DIY’d EP, Bedroom Pop. When she announced her highly anticipated debut album, there was a range of possibilities that could arise as the artist is no stranger to experimenting with sound.
When discussing the inspiration behind The Dark Age, she described the themes to revolve around everything wrong with the world on a global scale: “I made sense of it [the world] by drawing parallels from times past- from 2020 and The Dark Age, to our modern era. I really wanted to grab everything I hated by the balls. Whether it be society’s and my own hypocrisy, politicians, the environment, or themes that reflect my own personal battles with sexual-assault, hyper-sexualization, and toxic relationships.” Those topics are definitely felt on the record as it coincides with musical influences from Florence + the Machine, Lorde, Zella Day, and Banks (which is the biggest influence pulsating through the project).
From its start, the record’s opener, “2020,” unfolds exactly how one would expect with biting commentary about the past year. Yet, there’s a deeper edge that plays with observation of the underbelly of fame (“dollar bills double up as band-aids” // “Now, I’ve got everything that I wanted. I’m still a prisoner, but my walls look expensive.”) Lying overtop a dark and brooding electronic soundscape, Kitty’s vocals lure one in like a siren as she flips through the pages of LA, recounting her journey through the music industry. A highlight of the track is in the cut-throat lyrics that ask rhetorical questions like, “If they sold you a dream, how come at night you don’t sleep? Open late in L.A. where I can buy something to take away the pain of existing in the world of today” that stays with the listener long after the song fades.
“2020” bleeds in to “Afterparty” a haunting mood that feels at home on Halsey’s debut EP Room 93. Focusing on deep desolate themes of sexual assault, the track is meant to arise discomfort as it depicts the raw emotions tied to being a survivor, and booms with distorted synths and disjointed energy that parallels the immersive narrative. The poison drips from Kitty’s lips as she sings lines like, “I did not consent to your afterparty. I never said yet, but you still took me,” and calls out those who refuse to believe victims with, “Who do you think that you’d believe? A wasted zombie on the floor who can’t even remember her own way home?”
“Get Wild” is a lighter track that shows Kitty’s playful attitude with autotune and production. It builds to a fuzzed out climax and feels like a puzzle piece of electronics and guitars that battle out against one another before moving to the scorcher of the album, “Notre Dame.” Running down rampant thoughts of the world’s current affairs, it feels like the listener staring at their own reflection as they let their defenses trail while losing the restraint to give a damn. It acts as the catchiest track on the album with a gasoline-soaked chorus and the bridge’s razorblade words that strike out against world leaders and greed.
Elsewhere on the record, “Mint” taps the strongest into Kitty’s lyrical creativity. Using religious subtext, the metaphors are crafty with a sunnier disposition even though the subject matter focuses on the toxicity of idolizing another human being. It’s “Angelino,” though, that proves to be the standout of The Dark Age. Completely detaching herself from the dark-pop roots that hold tough throughout the record, Kitty manages to genre hop and give a seamless European-drenched moment. Utilizing the southern Italian aesthetic with the graceful plucking of a guitar’s nylon strings against her sultry composition, it’s the only track that hears her bare-boned vocals. Showcasing Kitty’s pipes with waxes and wanes of falsettos and verve, it’s impossible to not get swept up in the sautéed-rouse that encompasses the tune.
She returns to the dark-pop mystique on the closer which just so happens to be the title-track. Capturing the allure of an album’s end, Kitty pieces together a powerful production that bounces through the ruins of history, modern celebrity, and the world at large. Feeling as though it fits seamlessly with the opener, swelling with controlled chaos, the bridge takes note and rides through to the end while plucking at Kitty’s growing vocals as it roars towards a demanding finale.
Kitty’s The Dark Age is much more than meets the eye. There is a unique electricity that flows through every piece of the record that is refreshing to hear. Knowing she kept the ode to DIY musician by entirely producing, writing, and recording the album herself just makes the 8-track project that much more tantalizing. And, even though the LP can wobble a bit in the middle, the record relights the flame with its end and gives off a transcending storyline from top to bottom. I genuinely believe it’s her own words that sums up the whole of this record: “It’s about decadence, darkness, and how to find hope where the light leaks.”
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great/Phenomenal
Hope Ankney | @hope_ankleknee
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