A 4 is high praise indeed, for a band signed too young, crassly marketed as Disney Channel nu-metal for tweener girls, and universally castigated for their inability to play, sing, or write songs. The fact remains, though, that Canadian all-girl troupe KITTIE are slowly getting competent, and on occasion even interesting. It's also indisputable, though, that it's totally okay if you didn't really give a shit.One of the band's congenital defects has always been the thin, reedy voice of Morgan Lander. Conjuring up images of '80s pop thrush Teena Marie warbling over generic nu-metal, she's always been equally shaky when attempting a death metal vocal. Her pipes seem to be slightly improving with age, but producer Jack Ponti is taking no chances — every song's chorus is augmented by what can only be described as a choir of robots, a hundred voices digitally smoothed out into a mushy, indistinct midrange over which Lander screechily overemotes like a forgotten, prepubescent Jackson brother. Musically, KITTIE is mostly dishing up more of the same forgettable midtempo riffing and generic guitar work, with a few glaring additions of parts seemingly added only so the writer of their bio wouldn't be a complete liar for throwing around words like "complex." Sometimes, their simpler-is-better approach works for a minute — in "Witch Hunt", a menacing SLAYER-esque break combined with Lander's death metal vocal is compelling, and the riff in the pre-chorus is suitably heavy. But the chorus sounds like every other song on the record — blame it on that robot choir, or on Lander writing and delivering every chorus pretty much the same way, but it breaks the spell and makes the whole album forgettable. Other songs display what is, for KITTIE, frightening potential — "The Change" has good ideas, the right mix of melody and brutality, and decent riffs and arrangement. The beginning of "Around Your Heart" bas one of those "look, we're good at this now" moments described above, in the form of a cool lead break. But unfortunately, so much of the rest of "Funeral For Yesterday" is plodding, rudimentary and dishwater-dull, that it's still hard to take KITTIE seriously or give them credit. It remains to be seen if the band will ever turn their fortunes around and reconnect with the tens of thousands who bought their debut, "Spit", back in the Dark Ages of their early puberty (and novelty). Based on the material enclosed on "Funeral For Yesterday", and the cruel but unavoidable "damaged goods" aura that any band attains when they stop selling albums, I wouldn't bet on it. A shame, too, because another record or two and KITTIE might finally be ready for prime time.
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