Key Tracks: “Wearing Cologne Alone” “Defend Top Bunk”
It was just a few months ago that Human Kitten, aka folk-punk singer-songwriter Elijah Llinas, released “Manic Pixie Dream Boy,” and there’s already another release, equally filled with quick tracks on activism, illness and gender confusion. The songs vary more in tone, some angry, some retrospective, some self-deprecating. As always, it’s just Llinas and a guitar, quietly baring their souls to whomever’s listening.
Llinas has always been a lyrically-heavy singer, and “y tywysog bach” comes out of the gate with a number of personal and poetic tracks. Particularly self-deprecating second track “I’m Trash” sees Llinas declaring “Fuck my pain away / Until I melt into the trash compactor.” On the semi-anti-technology “Activists Are Active,” Llinas sings, “We think we’re so civilized / But we’re the same as the people living in 1655.” There are more tracks on the struggles of gender identification, like on the excellent “Sex: Male, Gender: Whatever.” And on “Defend Top Bunk,” “My songs are getting less political by the word.” Llinas’ personality comes through the lyrics, as it always does, but it feels like we’re getting a few broader aspects of it this time around. “Defend Top Bunk” is not a political song, but a song about becoming less political. Human Kitten’s lyrics are often direct, without sacrificing poetry, and on this album they occasionally aim for the gut (although whether it’s yours or Llinas’ gut isn’t clear).
Although Llinas still embodies a singer-songwriter, as a singular person with an acoustic guitar, the songwriting is a little different on this album. The songs themselves are a little more direct, less guitar flourishes and rhythms, grounded even further on the themes and lyrics. But on top of that, there’s also a three-part song, taking up tracks 8-10. “Shame,” “Forgiveness,” and “Redemption” are typically cynical and reflective, but it’s interesting to see Llinas take a different approach to the structures than usual.
Human Kitten is basically an embodiment of folk-punk; Llinas plays fast and acoustic music solo, with some specific, personal and occasionally discomforting lyrics. “y tywysog bach” is another album where Llinas opens up about deep issues that might not be as easy to talk about – as well as some forays into politics and problem people. And since it’s similar to the past releases, it’s a strong album. Llinas isn’t playing to a wide audience, rather providing a voice for people who can listen and relate; people who might have the same issues but haven’t been able to vocalize them. Most good folk-punk is like that, and Human Kitten is no different.
The album is out today and is available at the Human Kitten bandcamp page.
-By Andrew McNally