Final Rating: 6.6/10
If anything, this release sounds less to do with despair than it does the celebration of freedom.
K.I.D. (Kids in Despair) is comprised of societal runaways Kara Lane and Bobby Lo. The cover art depicts an old woman smoking with a look of embracement on her face; Rebellion never dies, and it can never be too late to stop caring about the rules. As daunting as the group name and album cover look, this release is actually cocooned within the sugary walls of pop music. The song names are riddled with substances, and you see looks of inebriated confusion on both musicians faces when you open your release up, but everything feels sober here.
It seems that K.I.D. are a part of this new wave of drug-obsessed pop stars that bring the topic up just simply because they love to get high. If you look at Tove Lo, for instance, you can definitely hear her stories about being loaded but you have no part in this experience whatsoever. K.I.D. do disorient the listener in the most subtle of ways possible. Dillon, for instance, feels marginally wobbly. It is a tale of heartbreak that can, assumedly, represent the narrator being stoned and out of it during these confessions. Had the song gone fully haywire with its uncertainty, you would be completely absorbed within this world Kara Lane is trying to paint for you. Then there are the many references to drugs in other songs, never mind those named after them. Bong Song even has the title being stated within its context.
That’s all well and good, but aspects of a song need to serve a strong purpose, no matter what it is. We should be feeling the destruction or elation Lane feels when the high or buzz hits her. While every song is catchy in some form, K.I.D. have the capability to truly blend pop and grit to fully capture the sensation of one’s depressions and/or enjoyment, and yet we only hear these tales. These are stories begging to be raw and candid. Instead, we hear Lane telling us something during a crowded and loud party, and we nod in agreement as we piece fragments of words together.
We do have a song where these ideas work in a way, and that’s the closer Stoned on the School Bus. It’s frigid and confrontational. If anything, it boosts the album a bit because it’s the one song that shows how being high is actually not the best solution to Lane’s problems. This counter attacks the heavy promotion any of the other songs had. This is the time you feel the disparity within the band’s name. This is the song that reveals to me the kind of promise Universal Music saw in this duo, and it is this track that will keep me watching on their career.
As a whole, this self titled release means well. If the closing song is any indication, it’s that both Lane and Lo need direction (both musically and throughout life). That’s the openness you get with the album cover and the band photos. That’s the kind of hard hitting music that unites us. The duo do try throughout the album, and for a first release, it’s worth a listen. There have been pop stars before them that have hidden behind dreamy lifestyles as well. Lady Gaga talked about boys and Lana Del Rey cruised down the highway in her sports car. Both artists came to light when they showed their dark. K.I.D. have the intentions to bring reality through pop music, and if they continue down this road, they will be heading in the right way. For now, the album cover makes a bit of sense. The elderly woman is blissfully smoking without a sense of fear in her expression. To get through to her, one must tell her the dangers of smoking. For now, she feels unharmed, and so do we.