From the first moment of their debut Album, Kitt Phillipa shows why they were the 2018 winner of single of the year at the NI Music Prize, taking you on an auditory journey through a conflicted and strained mind. The Opening track “Human” brings you in gently with muted and melancholy piano, mixed with an almost Florence Welch-like voice, they haunt you as they speak of “feeling high cause I want to taste it, feeling low because I can’t erase it”
With the musical framework throughout the album matching up with the lyrics with the high’s coming with the major’s, the low’s with the minors, you feel them struggle through each lyric, it’s sung with the type of passion only raw pain and joy can unlock. It struck a personal chord with myself, I couldn’t help but feel their pain as they pleaded for a stable mental baseline, as they expressed their frustrations at society and their desires, the desire for stability and happiness, of their wish for society to unify, not divide, to make peace not pain; it’s an album that has an individual message for each listener
Taking the Track “Lion”, you can see the emotional toll this takes on Kitt, opening with a sad piano motif, and an echo of a lyric that’s indiscernible, it’s as if we are being given front row seats to the internal fleeting yet intrusive thoughts that plague their mind, before being hit with a very blunt series of lyrics such as “I am broken like a beggar, wishing for richer weather” and “I don’t want to close my eyes anymore, I have seen too much of darkness”
you can just picture the headspace “Lion” was composed in, the depths of utter despair enclosing and surrounding them, enriching their pain with the various instruments of suffering that the mind holds, but even in the lowest of places they still find themselves fighting, they ask for “your lion’s courage” the track begins to take a turn at this point, we begin to feel an upbeat tempo, an uplifting chorus backing it, they are rising, this pit won’t be their demise, what Kitt doesn’t realise, they already have the lion’s courage, their earlier wish to not close their eyes for fear of the dark becomes their mantra, their rallying cry, their stand against the darkness, it repeats over and over, each time getting stronger. Its an anthem of hope, the lighthouse in the storm.
The final Track “68 2/4” almost paints a picture of the entire album thematically, it’s not lyrical complexity or the musical structure, it’s the simple lyric’s repeated over and over, “keep me going until the morning light”, at this point it made me realize this album feels as it’s a night in the head of Kitt Phillipa, starting in “Human” with the comedown from having to mask up all day, hide your emotions in an emotionless and turmoil stricken world that is currently sitting in chaos, and exploring the thought processes of them throughout a night in their life, it’s almost like this is an album of the manic mind, one showing the emotional and physical effects of said mania, it’s at this point I hope I am wrong on my perception of Kitt, and their album, no one should have to go through this type of torture, needing those highs to balance the low’s, it’s a strong reminder that you never know the unseen maladies inflicting their wound’s on the mind of another
It’s an album that from its outset is an exercise in trying to awaken and challenge the dulled human mind, a mind exposed to the rot of generic pop, it sheds the genericism of fast tempo, repetitive rhythms, and nonsensical lyrics, giving you a rare example of an artist that lays their heart on the table for all to examine, who lets you inside their head and see what they do on a daily basis, it’s CPR for the senses left numbed and clinging to life in this day and age of aggression, genericism, and self-centered natures.
This is an album filled with rich string’s and dramatic rises and falls, it’s the type of album that fit’s a smokey blues club, and the Royal Albert hall, one that would provoke silence from the crowd throughout, it’s one that would leave you in deep thought throughout and let you take from it what you need to, it’s not an album for a car-ride, nor background noise while you work, it’s comparable to a great literary work, it deserves your undivided attention, for you to take a seat and put those headphones on and lose yourself in their world for its runtime, let yourself be taken by the hand and guided through Kitts mind, their thoughts and feelings and maybe let yours out too
it’s rare to see an album of this quality, and shows yet another example of the shining musical talent on our doorstep.