Review Summary: The sense of community. The sounds of slowed breathing.
Kittyhawk is a four-piece emo group from Chicago, Illinois. Their debut full-length release, titled Hello, Again, was put out in October of 2014. Throughout this release, we hear the gleaming sound and talent from this small group from Midwest America.
The very first thing to commend this band on is their ability to fulfill the main requirement of an emo band - to be emotional. Lead singer / keyboardist Kate Grube constantly sounds real and like every line sung is her admitting something she’s kept inside and hidden. This tone helps sell some songs that would have been ruined if by any other singer. The lyrics on this album may be simple, but Grube’s despondent and heartfelt delivery helps keep everything down to earth. A prime example of this is in track four, “Vaudeville,” with a wonderful chorus full of impassioned lyrics with spot-on delivery: “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 just like my skin is a costume, but I don’t know what’s inside. It seems you just won’t be defeated; seems you don’t even know I tried.”
For the most part, the instruments work tremendously. The guitars (Erik Czaja and Mark Jaeschke) have plenty of time to shine, between the catchy riff in “Sunny Day Renter’s Insurance,” the math-rock style fills of “Tourisme” and “Hans Christian Andersen,” and the soaring leads in the bridge of lead single “Welcome Home.” Drummer Evan Loritsch doesn’t get much time to shine, largely due to the tempo and attempted tone of the songs. The most important thing Loritsch does is stay in the background. He never tries to steal the spotlight. While some more variety or more interesting drums could have been beneficial here, his performance doesn’t detract anything from the overall product. He also can play the banjo, which is cool.
The main problem with the instrumentation of this album is the lack of a bass. While not having someone playing an upright or electric bass isn’t an issue, Kittyhawk doesn’t seem to fill that gap with anything. On multiple occasions, songs seem somewhat bottomless. This isn’t a problem on every track, but it is a reoccurring issue.
Something on this album that might not be perfect for all listeners is the surplus of slow songs. This doesn’t detract from the overall listen and it gives this album a more laid-back sound. This results in some tracks being forgotten or not being nearly as memorable as others. Tracks like “Jude II,” “Self v. Former Self,” and “Better Homes” all blend together once the album ends. They aren’t bad; they just aren’t memorable.
Overall, Kittyhawk’s debut provides a new sound for the genre, and have sadly been overlooked in this new wave of emo bands that have come out in recent years. While Hello, Again isn’t a timeless work-of-art, it’s a nice, smooth, and easy album to listen to, and then listen to again, and then again, and then again...