Human Kitten is the project of Elijah Llinas, a non-binary individual based in Tucson, Arizona. Their latest album, Velvet Waltz, came out on Halloween and introduced us to their heart-on-sleeve style. Blending emo-inflected punk folk with Millennial angst-ridden bedroom pop, these are songs about love and loss and the emptiness of the early twenty-first century, what Llinas describes as, “isolation, crisis, pain, growth, & learning to be alive after years of anticipating death.”
We’re placed into a sense of youthful hopelessness from the outset. ‘Stuck Neverlasting’ is a direct and angry song about growing up in the internet age.
“So shell shocked by the complexities
and my mind
and all the rest that is still left to be defined”
‘Sensory Deprivation’ is about being in your twenties but still not quite an adult, while ‘Heart Container’ explores coping with challenges both past and future, and the seemingly mundane tasks we concern ourselves with to help get by (“so I’ll play single player role playing videogames until I die,” Llinas sings, “while playing through Earthbound for the seventh time”).
‘Stamina’ is the best song about arguing on the internet you’ll hear all year, capturing the use of cool ironic detachment to escape any sense of knowledge or belief. This is followed by, ‘Living Room at Noon,’ perhaps the brightest beam of light on the record. “I think there’s a future in,” Llinas sings. “Dissolving into kindness, becoming one with the lightness”.
Final track ‘Self-Diagnosis’ is one of the record’s saddest, based in the aftermath of a breakup. But despite the emotional turmoil, the record ends on a glimmer of something better, the indication that the narrator hasn’t given up completely.
“And I just hope one day
that everything will be okay”
On Velvet Waltz, Human Kitten sounds at once frustrated and patiently resigned, destructively apathetic and bursting at the seams with feeling and love. It’s an existential crisis in the age of Snapchat and Twitter, anger and irony twin masks that attempt to hide hurt and vulnerability.
You can get the album now from the Human Kitten Bandcamp page.