Hello, Again

Written by: LF on 24/01/2015 13:17:11

Kittyhawk is a band from Chicago, Illinois, who play sweet songs that merge floaty and noodling emo guitars with an indie pop approach to songwriting. The members span vocalist/keyboardist Kate Grube, drummer/vocalist Evan Loritsch, and guitarists/vocalists Mark Jaeschke and Erik Czaja, the latter of whom you might know from similar indie/emo band Dowsing. "Hello, Again" is their debut full-length and first and foremost it's a very dreamy and melancholic release with charmingly dry lyrics throughout.

We're led calmly into the album by the consistently blending guitars of "Contact" before they bleed into "The Petravitz Estate" which then properly kicks off the album with the addition of Grube's soft and melancholic vocals to the song. Come next track, "Sunny Day Renter's Insurance", we're introduced to the band's characteristic and very electronic-sounding keyboard riffs and their band-spanning vocal harmonies, and with these in the mix, all the main elements of Kittyhawk are in place. Overall their sound is cutesy and melodic and the tracks that stand out on the album do so mostly due to a catchy delivery of a line of lyrics or an unusual energetic riff while the record maintains the same spacey, introverted mood throughout. The upbeat "Seasonal Abjective Disorder" is a good example of this with a repeated and childishly stubborn lyric that goes "Looking at your face makes me tired / Looking at your face I wanna fall asleep" which is bound to make you notice it every time you hear it. Likewise the softer "Jude II" and the more noisy "Hans Christian Andersen" stand out with memorable vocal melodies and more energetic soundscapes than most of the other songs, most notably due to a dominating organ in "Jude II", and some twinkly, eclectic guitar noodling and a good quiet/loud dynamic in the latter.

Grube generally sings in a curiously disengaged way and while it sometimes sounds charming, it's also alienating. For some this might not be a problem but it nonetheless means that the songs on this album don't lash out and grip the listener as much as they just twirl around in the vicinity of your ear, waiting for you to actively dive into them to get the full experience out of the album. This also makes some of the most interesting lyrics fly right by you as the vocal delivery just doesn't call attention to the words very well. The one big exception to this is the dark song "Vaudeville" that calls attention to itself by initially having Grube more clearly in the foreground, and its chorus is definitely the most memorable moment of the album with its striking, melancholy lyrics: "It's just like the dream I've been having / Where I ruin my own surprise / And all of my enemies forming / As I fight them they multiply / It's like my own skin is a costume / And I don't know what's inside / It seems you just won't be defeated / It seems you don't even know I try".

Overall "Hello, Again" is a good debut with its very charming, noodling sound but while none of the songs feel out of place or bad as such, the album does lack some in terms of diversity. It sounds like it's caught up in its own little world and it's hard to not feel like you're disturbing the peace of a small, self-reliant eco-system when you expect the songs to open up and let you in. This can be frustrating as the album has such a likable sound but ends up feeling a little flat simply because of the disinterested way it presents itself to its listener.

Download: Vaudeville, Seasonal Abjective Disorder, Hans Christian Andersen
For The Fans Of: Rainer Maria, Dowsing, Football Etc., Slingshot Dakota

Release date 14.10.2014
Count Your Lucky Stars Records

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