Music Reviews

Kid Sister Ultraviolet

(Fools Gold/Downtown Records) Rating - 5/10

Like M.I.A. and Lady Sovereign before her, Chicago’s own Kid Sister (a.k.a. Melisa Young) has been no stranger to the pros and cons of blog hype and delayed release dates. After all, those kind of ancillary benefits come with the territory in the hipster version of credibility in this new millennium, blah, blah, blah. However, on her much anticipated (and much delayed) debut LP Ultraviolet, Kid Sister’s particular version of retro pop in the hip hop/electro vain speaks to a specific type of ironic bliss that ends up being just a bit too clever by half.

The problem isn’t her--not really. Kid Sister is actually quite charming. She brings to the table a brash confidence that plays with its own jocularity, creating a distinctly amiable and (dare I say) loveable atmosphere that can’t be denied. Mainly, the issues with the album lie in the surprising predictability of its own aesthetic. Lather, rinse, repeat comes to mind, and it makes it all the more disappointing. There is a sort of built in esoteric quality with this type of music, and creativity would be a welcome diversion from all of the poppy cheekiness.

Instead, Ultraviolet is not only predictable and repetitive, but rather indulgent. This isn’t a cardinal sin in and of itself, of course. However, when the album’s other attributes are hindered by its own inability to find its central footing, all you really get is a shoddy collection of overreaching singles and poor attempts at cagey histrionics. Considering the production talent involved (Rusko, The Count and Sinden, XXXChange, Brian Kennedy) this may be a case of too many savvy cooks in the proverbial kitchen. Though, the indie landscape that Ultraviolet would have itself thrive on breeds its own issues.

As has been shown with countless other artists, it is quite difficult to live up to the expectations of a well-received blog celebrity or mixtape, and the obligatory pushed back release date of the debut will almost always hurt more than it helps. The snail like pace in which track after track gets leaked only adds to the lack of interest when the finished product finally comes to fruition. For instance, it is downright tragic the way that a stellar track like “Pro-Nails” (showcased prominently on Ultraviolet) really only makes a mild impact in the long run due to its ultimate lack of significance. We did all hear it, like, almost two years ago.

But none of this is really Kid Sister’s fault, per se. It was perhaps destined to go this way, in a sense. The potential Young shows is infectious and encouraging, but her debut was going to be a buzz kill from the start, if only because of the hype. Fortunately, this predictable situation can be diffused with the magic of the Sophomore LP that can come out of nowhere and impress all of the holier than thou haters of album number one. Here’s hoping that, in the future, Kid Sister can find a way to keep her personality while, perhaps, honing a new identity.