October 25, 2016

EP: Katie Ellen - TV Dreams

Katie Ellen's revamped TV Dreams defines sparklecore.

Katie Ellen is the self-described “sparklecore” rock outfit that emerged from the dissolution of much-loved pop-punk group Chumped—and rather than being an echo of a past triumph, they’re a rejuvenation. The new EP TV Dreams, which comes out October 21st as a 7” via Lauren Records, demonstrates vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Anika Pyle’s knack for crafting evocative love-banger gems; opening track “Wild Heart” climaxes with the jarringly simple line: “I like to keep things / That remind me of you.” “Wild Heart” and “TV Dreams” were first written “in the fall/winter of 2015 at the end of a long year full of feelings,” as noted on the Katie Ellen bandcamp page. They were released originally as demos in January, but the newer recordings accentuate the soulful songwriting with instrumental clarity and punch.

On “Wild Heart,” sticky, squealing guitar functions almost like another voice under the plaintive and clear vocal tones; on “TV Dreams,” a male voice contours Pyle’s with a lower harmony that then explodes into glorious choral ahhh's. Both tracks are expertly coordinated to accentuate the sheer magnitude of their heartache-y pop hooks, cracking open over drum fills into gigantic, unforgettable moments of emotion. Like anything sugary, they’ll leave you craving seconds, or in this case, returning for that second listen. And a third one. The real gut-wrencher on TV Dreams is the title track, which tells a too-familiar story of a relationship dissolved and yet still very present in both partners’ lives. Pyle’s lyrics, unlike her sparkly instrumentation and sickeningly sweet voice, are nothing flashy — instead, they’re so raw and honest they could almost be an actual monologue; a phone conversation. “I hope you’re happy / I think you want the same for me,” she sings, and later repeats “I guess I called to say that you can call me.” It’s a not-quite-removed offer of support that ends up looking more like a plea when at the end, she almost sighs: “call me.” The music swells, crashes, and fades as sweetly as it came — the words leave us feeling understood, and the catchiness leaves us feeling satisfied.

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Listen to Katie Ellen on bandcamp.

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Jess is a college student from Nashville living in NYC. She enjoys February, tape hiss, and peanut butter cups. Find her tweeting self-consciously here.