February 18, 2016

EP: katie ellen - wild heart demo

katie ellen teaches us that while love might not be enough, music can heal the wound.

I went through a phase earlier this year where I strictly listened to pop music. Madonna, Michael Jackson, even some contemporary artists like Ariana Grande thrown in there. It felt good to just listen to music that you want to dance to instead of cry along to. But I inevitably began to feel a space growing in myself, like something was missing. I was yearning for my good ol’ angsty roots. Slowly but surely, I made my way back to my beginnings: the kind of songs that got me through high school, the sort of things I bang my head to, mosh to, or just quietly sway. New York-based duo katie ellen’s new album, wild heart demo, is made up of these kind of songs.

Anika Pyle, the vocalist of katie ellen and former of Chumped, has the kind of voice that takes you through a shitty time and out to the other side. The first song and title track off the EP is a catchy yet sad song about a relationship ending and a fateful trip abroad. Anika croons, “Paris is blooming / and I’m feeling blue / We’re saying nothing / at the footsteps of the Louvre”. My first major relationship ended this September and while it was amicable, it was nonetheless a break up. We had taken a trip to Paris over the summer, where things had partially began falling apart, so this song hit me especially hard. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard more than one story about couples going to Paris and the trip becoming a disaster and ending with a break up. My vacation wasn’t a a total mess, but I definitely felt a little blue and knew something bad was coming. The mix of pop-punk styling and singer-songwriter elements is particularly conducive to this kind of angry melancholy; thinking about things that could’ve been different. "tv dreams" follows in the same vein, with Anika's cathartic voice singing over dark yet energetic guitar and drums. One of the standout qualities of these demos is how easy it is to relate to Anika's lyrics and this pattern continues in "tv dreams" with lines like, “I am miserable with you / miserable without you.” Who can say that they haven't felt the same? It’s hard to live with love, and hard to live without it. Feelings either way are excruciatingly tough to deal with.

The band describes the EP on their bandcamp page as “written in the fall/winter of 2015 at the end of a long year full of feelings // official soundtrack of the sad grrls club” and I have to agree on many accounts: these are songs for falling snow, one of a year ripe with emotions, and they definitely make me feel welcome in the sad grrls club. "lucy stone" finishes the three tracks off on a musically upbeat note, but continues with Anika's realistic take on relationships. It’s the kind of frowning-with-a-slight-smirk song that is the perfect end to the EP. The song comes in with a bang of lyrics when Anika sings, “Well I don't wanna have your children / does that make me less of a woman? / I don't believe in getting married / it's a social economic prison.” Anika doesn’t mince words here - it’s all hung up to dry, soaked in tears and revelatory laughter. She’s figured it out, and I appreciate that what I’ve thought about for a long time is finally being put into songs as genuine, honest lyrics rather than some cynical side commentary. “Love is not enough” the song declares, and is anything really enough? Music seems to be. Music is enough.


Listen to katie ellen on bandcamp.

Drew Lucia is a sophomore at Bennington College, far away from her hometown Los Angeles. She loves living in Vermont because it gives her a chance to wear very unflattering clothing all the time. She likes making movies, writing sad things, and listening to Portishead most of the time. She thinks email is still a valid form of communication, so if you want her to write you a sad poem, say hey. She feels weird writing about herself in third person, so that's it for now.