Review: Sin Kitty, “Softer”

Sin Kitty’s debut album, Softer, is quite frustrating. Don’t get me wrong — it’s got some pretty good moments — but substance is sparse in this attempt.

I’m going to lead off with my comments on the vocal performance on this album — and for good reason. The vocals are buried deep underneath the hollow shore of Softer, creating a beautiful gem of inflection. I don’t feel like I need to know what’s being said at every moment; feeling prevails over detail on this one. Unfortunately, that feeling is stylized with as much vacancy and forethought as a monochrome Instagram filter, which does work well at some points in this album but it leaves the better half of it feeling empty.

There is a clear grunge/90’s alt-rock inspiration behind Softer; everything from the flangey guitars and dense snares to essentially how this album was mixed screams “I Grew Up On Kurt Cobain”. This is not a bad thing. At all. It does make the nostalgic daydream emotion of the album hard to miss. This piece is a fairly straightforward attempt at conveying a texture rather than a narrative. The sonic concept is very clear, but the main problem with this thing is it never evolves so it has a hard time feeling interesting. The band’s apathetic musical identity plays against themselves here.

Right off the bat with intro track “Softer” we get a phased-out snippet of synth and chimes that hints at promising vibes of mysterious depth. It’s offset by the subsequent track, “Vanity Daze”, which is… disappointing. It starts off with a fuzzy pluck melody and fairly quickly transforms into the guitar equivalent of Grandma’s Molasses. This song takes its damn time to progress; when it finally does it doesn’t go far. On my initial listens I found a lot to like in the ghostly cadence of this song, but it didn’t stand the test of time. It took relatively few plays for “Vanity Daze” to feel unnecessarily repetitive and ultimately painfully bland.

Interestingly, “Don’t Be Crazy” lends itself to similar song structure but manages to nestle itself comfortably in the tunnel of reverb that is this LP. It winds the listener into a vapid dream-like state, feeling at moments a bit too arid for this reviewer’s liking.

Additionally, a handful of songs act as filler. Tunes like “Pillow Fight” and “Always” sport vacant Nostalgia, Ultra-esque feelings but fail to provide any real atmosphere to the album that is either captivating or isn’t already present in other songs. This makes the album feel more redundant than sonically profound.

There is a wonderful three-song stretch consisting of “All the Kidss”, “Wondering”, and “Chase” that capture the obvious shoegaze influence of Sin Kitty in a digestible form. All the punches this album has to pack are loaded in its three penultimate songs where we see passionate jamming, spoken word experimentation, and the only satisfying exploration of space Softer offers.

I don’t think I’m being excessively harsh here; I can clearly see what they were going for, I just don’t think they’ve achieved it. Most songs on here aren’t fully developed and nearly all of them rely on a single, repetitive riff. If you squint your eyes this is an indie rock equivalent of drone metal but without the instrumental expertise and sonic progression that keep your attention. I wouldn’t say that I recommend this album but if you chose to listen to it you’d best have something to do in the meantime because it’s most suitable as background music.

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