Human Kitten - Manic Pixie Dream Boy (Cover Artwork)

Human Kitten

Manic Pixie Dream Boy (2014)


Human Kitten is a person called Elijah, who has been plugging away at this style of acoustic folk-punk for some time now, previously known as Elijah and the Lions. This is the second album, and it's really good.

It's kind of hard to pin down the sound. Quite minimalist, only voice and guitar. There's what sounds like some twee-pop tendencies (a little ramshackle and amateurish, but in a good, Beat Happening way), but describing it as twee is a long shot, as the raw, emotional lyrics and constantly evolving songs make that label (largely) inapplicable. Considering this is just a guy and a guitar and some chords, the music is quite complex, with songs often eschewing conventional structure, instead having lots of little parts.

The lyrics are really great. As suggested by the project's name, there's some similarities with Andrew Jackson Jihad; while that band's satirical view of the horrors of humanity isn't present, the confessionalism is. The lyrics are super-direct, and there's descriptions of their author's darker feelings; low self-opinion, longing, loneliness and depression. But there's much more positive messages too: "Imperfect Stranger" preaches self-love to the listener, and "Call Yr Friends" emphasizes connecting and reconnecting with others, while admitting it can be tough to do this. Additionally there are songs about being punk, gender identity (Elijah is genderqueer, and it's really cool to hear songs about that being sung), travel ("Annapolis"), break-ups ("Philadelphia", one of my favourites) and politics. The latter is covered in the brilliant "London," which glorifies shoplifting before making an apt link between oppression by The Man and depression: "there's a government in your head telling you to stay in bed/ so SMASH THE STATE." Though it's all simply put (no bad thing), clearly a lot of thought is put into these lyrics, with statements being qualified, like in "Share What Ya Got" ("I'm not saying that you can't be angry…").

The style can come across a little confusing at times (the many parts and tempo changes in most the songs, and the odd bit of enjambment, can throw one off slightly), but though it took me a little getting used to, I really enjoy this. Highly recommended for fans of folk-punk.