Violent Mae, a Connecticut duo, began their musical career in 2013 with a self-titled album. Two years later and the band has now released their sophomore follow-up, Kid. In many ways, it sounds like Violent Mae has grown up quite a bit. Becky Kessler and Floyd Kellogg deliver a much fuller sound this time around –many of their songs seeming to add more layers of much cleaner texture, and Kessler singing at a greater, often more rounded level than before. It’s sweeter, more emotional, and played with some excellent intensity. Kid is definitive –it’s Violent Mae at their best.
The first track we get to hear on Kid is titled, “In The Sun.” Almost appropriately, it gains some sort of beachy vibe along the guitar chords and quick percussive rhythm –honestly unexpected for Violent Mae. Kessler’s voice is a little speed up for the usual and you almost have to do a doubletake –is this really the band we heard two years ago? Of course –just with a little more thought in each song. Although “In The Sun” isn’t typical, it’s a great way to start Kid off. It’s pleasant and playful, an accessible way of getting into the meat of the album. Next we hear, “In My Ring,” which is dark, but again quick and something a little more unexpected. A later song, “lou 1,” is something of a bar room blues jam –and maybe slightly more recognizably Violent Mae in style. The guitar is slow and deliberate, where the vocals are low and haunting. Kessler tears into you behind a little bit of audio distortion and it’s great. Regardless, track after track a common theme of some serious musical growth is established.
Amongst all of the tracks, it seems as if the duo decided to really play around this time. Violent Mae has some variation in sound but for the most part they hit the nail on the head consistently while maintain something a bit more recognizable. It’s a very distinct listen that makes Kid really stay with you –haunt you. Track after Track, Kessler and Kellogg lay it out like no other.
Admittedly, the final few of the songs are lacking. They just seem to drag on and out –the songs are fine but the tracks that preceded them just had so much more energy and power. For example, “Neon Halos,” features a basic guitar line, some matching percussion, and Kessler adds her sweet vocals. It’s standard, and it’s good, but it feels so weak in comparison. Maybe it’s the soulful tiredness of Kid itself getting to me, but it just feels as if the band buried their worst at the end. Still, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s debilitating. It just proves that Violent Mae is still growing –the magnum opus is, perhaps, yet to come (and when it does come it’ll probably blow our minds).
If you forgive a few bad apples, Kid holds up extremely well. The album is soulful and atmospheric. In some ways it feels a little more accessible than Violent Mae’s first release, but at the same time, it seems to showcase the duo’s talent much better. In particular, “Away,” stood out as a pretty magical moment. The guitar is lofty and slow. The percussion adds a slow beat to sway with. Kessler carries the song away with a soft voice. It’s mellow, but it’s a perfect combination of all the right things to make Violent Mae who they are.
Those of us who enjoyed Violent Mae’s debut will certainly love Kid as well. The album is a great addition to anyone’s collection, and if you need to add a little darker ambiance to this cold holiday season, Kid is the perfect album to do so – the duo behind Violent Mae will add a beautiful, soulful, and totally fantastic twist to the mix.