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Review: “First Album”

Miss Kitten and the Hacker

Rain puddle, pocket mirror, car hood, computer screen. We look at reflective surfaces to understand how we appear, the eyes of others be damned. For something as representative of ourselves as the face, the same appearance we witness every bathroom morning seems almost unoriginal, the embodiment of routine. Distortions are treasures through which we find truth.

In “First Album”, Miss Kittin and the Hacker construct a retrospective dreamscape in the style of 80s discotheque. Imagine the vocalist Kittin, deadpan drawl and Gothic manner, drowning in a dancefloor sea of strobes. As she looks up at the mirrorball, listeners realize that somewhere in there, there are fragments of oneself; listeners trace the contour of this parallel shadow and discover something about the shape of their own life.

Pop music often intends to hook the listener by engendering self-identification with generic lyrics of love or breakups. It is a rare occasion that music can hook someone so forcefully into these common struggles with the grace of Miss Kittin and the Hacker. Replete with glittering synths, club-ready beats, and foreboding mood, “First Album ” successfully constructs a mirror underworld of sound.

Miss Kittin or simply Kittin was born in 1973. She was so inspired in her youth by the rising trend of techno music in her native France, the disinhibition and musical connection that a rave could offer, she left home at the age of 16 to pursue. She met her musical collaborator The Hacker at a club and soon launched a career as an international DJ. 2001’s “First Album ” was the duo’s first feature-length album. 

Perhaps the most popular track “Frank Sinatra” captures a grimy sound with its eerie hook and blunt lyrics on celebrity excess but moves forward with strange appeal. “Stock Exchange” crafts a stomping businesslike beat; “1982” reminisces on a past love with robotic emotion. My favorite is “Walking in the Sunshine.” The track is full of memorable melancholy synth lines and propulsive bass, but the lyrics really sold the package for me. Kittin picks apart her infatuations with the men on the dancefloor she encounters, men with fanciful looks or fine physique, yet for every attraction she pursues she inevitably leaves unfulfilled. No partner she ever finds is capable of meaningful reciprocation; yes, she continues to chase love, but her character is ultimately a tragic one trapped in a perpetual experience of love as a progenitor to losing. The mood of disillusionment really spoke to me and to me embodied the best traits of the album. “First Album” effectively packages the sentiment of discontent through a uniquely robotic electronic aesthetic, shining lyrically and appealing musically. I give it an 8.5/10.

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About the Contributor
I'm David, a junior at North and a new addition to the editorial staff of The Knight Times. I enjoy creative writing and self-expression, but throughout school, I feel I haven't had enough opportunity to practice this skill I feel very passionately about. In my spare time, I create music, sketch ideas, write poetry, and participate in North's Academic Team every autumn.

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