Kidlat Sound Unaffected and Promising on Gettin’ Pretty

by Allanah Maarteen

Kidlat Gettin' Pretty

I’ll go ahead and state the obvious about Kidlat’s debut LP Gettin’ Pretty: lyrically, it’s for young people. Teenagers? Twenty-somethings? I guess when you turn thirty it’s a little harder to tell the difference. Hints of adolescent confusion and youthful angst come through with lines like “I am overwhelmed with all these promises/but I’ll still hold my breath and wait for you” and “I wanna throw myself through windows,” but the nonchalant vocal deliveries of Olivia DeBeck, Alex Villarreal and Josh Palacios reveal an underlying tenderness that’s endearing, even to a thirty-something. And then, thank god, with tasteful guitar tones, not-too-predictable changes and a stripped down rhythm section Kidlat redeems themselves. Instead of juvenile, I’ll call them unaffected and promising.

With Gettin’ Pretty, Kidlat illustrates an easygoing world where thoughtful, well-adjusted young people come to grips with heartache and find a place for themselves. Alright cool, I can support that.

Laid-back but driving, the single “It’s Horrible!” features bassist Olivia DeBeck’s sweet and down-to-earth vocals. A song about pretending to be okay, DeBeck grapples with self-sabotaging tendencies: “I don’t want to go downtown/cause the last time I did I puked my guts out.” Initially silly yet serious, the tone becomes almost dire in the chorus, as DeBeck confronts “all this pressure living in my head,” worrying that “with all the excuses/I’ll end up dead.” Thankfully the jangly guitar and sing-song melody work to relieve the tension until suddenly it’s normal, it’s casual, we sing about it, we overcome it. By the second verse, an even deeper sense of maturity comes through: “do you notice me universe?…/I see the future/I see myself/and I’m still worried/It’s something I can’t help.” It’s nice to hear that despite the mental anguish, Kidlat keeps perspective.

For me, “Night Sweats” shines through as the most interesting track. DeBeck allows her voice to crack slightly as she moves into a higher register, and this hint at roughness suggests that maybe Kidlat has a rawer side to explore. Here, the music becomes panicked and aggressive as DeBeck sings “I got nightmares/plenty of nightmares.” The guitar feeds back, barely, just barely, and I want more.

That’s it, I want more. It’s all a little too normal, a little too neat. For a band that embraces confessional lyrics and a DIY aesthetic, I want it to get a little dirtier. So that’s my challenge to Kidlat: get angry, get scared, get out of control. Take courage and explore the depths.

Kidlat’s Gettin’ Pretty LP comes out this Friday, December 14th through We’re Trying Records