Review: Mr.Kitty - EPHEMERAL (updated)

Mr.Kitty impresses with crisp, dynamic dancefloor pleasers while sending a strong inner message.

Mr.Kitty -  (for fans of futurepop - dark indie pop - synthwave) As an introduction, Mr.Kitty's sound is both a hybrid yet undefinable and it needs to be experienced to be understood. If you think you know a thing or two about dark music genres, you can throw all of that out the window.

EPHEMERAL is a beautifully ambitious effort with 30 solid tracks. This album delivers more pop, more dance influences, and more emotion than any of his previous works.  There is enough variety on this album for all fans of dark electronic to enjoy. Self-coined genre 'Suicide pop' is probably the most accurate term for it, as the tracks flow into some genres with familiarity and are capped off with a poppy bounce, but ultimately are something else entirely.

EPHEMERAL has also grown from the style of his previous albums, and yet remains undeniably, recognizably Mr.Kitty. What started out as a Crystal Castles homage has developed over time and with this latest release has reached a level of mastery that is entirely it's own. Instead of 'sounds like Crystal Castles' we finally find ourselves describing other things as 'sounds like Mr.Kitty'. As a long-time fan I found myself grinning and excited with the start of each track.

The first noticeable upgrade I noticed from older Mr.Kitty albums is the addition of well-timed intros before the full beat starts, making the songs fuller and more balanced - structured more like the pacing of dancefloor anthems we know and love from dark electro and futurepop club scenes. Most songs contain elements of trance, synthwave, witch house (in slight degrees) leaving room for a unique blend that can only be described as Mr.Kitty. There’s even a few tracks starring guest vocals (kawaii robotic vocalists) like Hatsune Miku using vocaloid/UTAU effects.

Mr.Kitty's tracks have a consistent pace and structure. While formulaic songs annoy some, for most who love dance music this is like a warm blanket. The variety is in the difference between each track, some faster arp-infested futurepop tracks like something you'd hear stuffed between Apoptygma Berzerk and Covenant in a sweet DJ set (Check out bangers Disconnect Lover, Whip, Puzzle Heart, Melting Core). And perfectly placed in between are slow churning ballads (Wait, Sanctum of Ash, Empty Phases, Rain) - the kind that make you float in inspiration, especially with deeply intrinsic lyrics that are easy to miss under the levity of the electro pop sound and vocal distortion.

Upon a deeper listen you can catch the lyrics. The lyrics are what set Mr.Kitty’s tone apart from other ’synth’ or ‘pop’ artists. The lyrics are deep and dark, and touch upon some heavy intrinsic themes. Underneath all the energetic pop you hear on the surface, stop for a second and listen to the message: This album is dedicated to a friend who took his life, and especially the song Empty Phases speaks specifically to this crisis. The number to the Suicide crisis hotline can be found in the liner notes.

Coming back to the label ‘Suicide pop’ or ‘Self-Destructive pop’, it almost fits - listening to the happy outward tones of pop music, but inside hidden within there is someone shouting words wrought with emotion. All it takes is a concentrated listen - to the entire album - to hear the beauty that may not be noticed at first. I urge each listener to take their time with the album, and give it that justice - Mr.Kitty deserves that much.

My favorite tracks are the witch pop ones which are an unusual beat and a delight to my ears - ‘From Liquid’ (vocal and lyrical performance are on point), and ‘Destruction of Us’. The futurepop dance anthems (Puzzle Heart, Disconnect Lover, Melting Core), and those that you can’t fit into any one genre (Rain, Bullet).

EPHEMERAL releases on Negative Gain Productions March 8, 2019.

Dedicated to Kahlas Austin Stambaugh (1994 - 2018). 
You're not alone: 1-800-273-8255

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