Kittyhawk - Hello, Again (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Hello, Again (2014)

Count Your Lucky Stars

After listening to Hello, Again for a couple weeks now, I wondered when the Tigers Jaw comparisons would come about. Kittyhawk comes off highly reminiscent of this band, more so with vocalist/keyboardist, Kate Grube, whose voice sounds very similar to Brianna Collins. She embeds herself with a sincerity that nods to the likes of Frances Quinlan (Hop Along) and Michelle Zauner (Little Big League) to name a few and this trait is one that draws you in. It's the ideal kind of pull that an emo-laden record such as this requires.

One of the biggest draws about Hello, Again is that it throws back to so many bands who helped carve the genre. Smarty so...but what's also nice to note is that the record still offers passage as to how to let go and allow room for newer bands currently carrying the mantle to run with. "Welcome Home" is one of these. It feels like a heart-on-sleeve tribute to Mineral as it shifts from a twinkly start-up to rough-cut bullets at the end. It doesn't hide behind Grube's voice at all, unlike the majority of the record. Most tracks on tap are melody-steered, jangly and emo-laced to say the least with quite a few tracks also reminding of early Jimmy Eat World. "Vaudeville" is a prime example as one of these essentials to fill the emptiness in life. There's a stark reality to this song that rivals and contrasts keyboard-driven tracks like "Sunny Day Renter's Insurance". The name alone says it all, right?

The duality in cases like these leaves a lasting sonic signature (and again, here's where the Tigers Jaw vibe creeps in).

Not everything's all fine and dandy however. This 13-tracker comes off a bit front-loaded with the middle of the album dragging a bit. Amid the synth-heavy indie pop, parts at this mid-section feel less dynamic. It's a bit surprising given that the guitars from Erik Czaja (Dowsing, Pet Symmetry) and Mark Jaeschke (Joie de Vivre) are usually spot on. However, it isn't that big a grouse. Why? Well, because the gravity of Grube's words lure you back. "Seasonal Abjective Disorder" reignites things with a cutting, pop-punk flair that acts as a cheeky precursor to the acoustic heartbreak of "Better Homes". 1-2 punches like these really spice things up.

Despite a lacking intensity and poppy sense of urgency in its spine, Hello, Again can hold its head high. The front's so good and the conclusion holds up decently to maintain the band's essence. If this balance could have been struck throughout, we'd have a serious winner on our hands. However, it doesn't take away from the massive foundation laid here by Kittyhawk. It's a great sign of things to come. You can't ignore the genius and earnesty in indie-rock such as this.