Katie Ellen Still Life Review For Northern Transmissions

Lauren Records

8.0/10

Katie Ellen

Still Life

Roaring guitars kick things off on “Lighthouse” as an earnest but furious spirit shows just how potent Katie Ellen’s writing can be. Katie Ellen’s mix of raw fury and down-to-earth tones is a subtle touch but one that makes their music instantly distinct as you hear it, and keeps it away from much of the samey rock around. Dreamy vocal mixes take over Anika Pyle’s guitars as well, with the music constantly building to a fiery peak, and letting her really explore her emotions fully in each track.

The rumbling drums of “City/Country” help create a stark contrast with the band’s otherwise rustic guitars and let Pyle’s vocals also stand out as part of a completely different set of tones. Though the song takes a much sharper pop wrote in its writing, this depth of instrumentation and tone helps flesh out the divided nature of its lyrics. Just as the song reaches its breaking point for writing, the guitar solo cuts in to take it over an emotional cliff and one that really hits you hard. Using their percussive momentum throughout the track cleverly, Katie Ellen really makes this song one to remember.

While there’s certainly a nostalgia and feisty energy to “Still Life” it’s really the sense of sadness and longing that makes it so heartbreaking to hear. As Pyle recalls with brutal honesty that she never lied to her lover about how things would end, you can hear the regret and pain in her voice. While it’s by far the most overtly pop song on the record, she manages to flesh it out with a wealth of feeling and powerful tones on all ends of the band’s arrangements to match the lyrics. By the end you’ll be too caught up in the powerful choruses and the way they enhance the story to even notice it’s straightforward writing.

With distorted vocals, “Adaption of Para Todos” grinds its guitars about as hard as its harmonies bite listeners. The constant momentum of the beats and shredding makes for a fast and off-kilter listen, and one that will certainly send people into a dancing (if not moshing) frenzy. Not one to take a simple route for long however, Pyle turns the rest of the song into a slow and satisfying build to her furious release of frustrations. As the song shifts from its downbeat section right back into the finale, you can feel the purity of Pyle’s spirit in the final vocals and guitar.

Though it’s brutally raw and demo-like, “Lighthouse (Reprise)” is to-the-point and bears its meaning on its sleeve. While its mix is almost too unrefined and its sound quite bare-bones, Katie Ellen lets their writing shine through here.

 

Words by Owen Maxwell