Spice Grrrls

Heavy on the angst.

In the press material accompanying the debut album from Kittie, no

fewer than three references are made contrasting the band with Britney

Spears. Even though the members of Kittie are four girls ranging in age from

15 to a grizzled 17, they are taking great strides to ensure they are not

lumped in with the current kiddie-pop phenomenon. (Actually, when exactly

did this phenomenon ever go away? Are we so vain that we can't remember

Another Bad Creation? The Osmonds?) But methinks Kittie doth protest too

much, since there's not much chance these girls will be mistaken for the

reigning wholesome teen queens anytime soon. In fact, these are the sort of

girls who beat up the Britney Spears of the world for lunch money, then cut

class to smoke in the parking lot.

If there's any bandwagon that this kiddie grindcore band is jumping on, it's

not the little red one steered by the moppets of Hanson or the maidens of

Lilith Fair, but the stolen one piloted by the thrash bands of Ozzfest.

Simply put, Kittie is to Fear Factory as the Donnas are to the Ramones. They

look like the Muppet Babies version of L7 and trade in a bottom-heavy,

gloomy brand of goth-metal that is more closely associated with an

overabundance of testosterone. Lacking any perceivable musical virtuosity or

lyrical acumen, the young women of Kittie are nonetheless capable players.

Spit offers 12 bile-spewing dirges featuring churning guitars and

angry growling vocals that are probably no worse than your average Coal

Chamber tune, although that may be damning with faint praise. The lyrics are

world-weary and bitter beyond the bandmembers' years. High school must be

worse than I remember.

Some of the tunes, such as the impressively layered "Charlotte" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Paperdoll," showcase the softer side of lead singer

Morgan Lander's voice while still maintaining the band's heavy sound, but

most songs, including the title track (RealAudio

excerpt), threaten to shred her vocal cords by the time she's old

enough to buy beer. The climactic riffage in the bludgeoning "Raven"

(RealAudio

excerpt) sounds exactly like Rocket From the Crypt's "On a Rope,"

but this is where the similarities end. The songs are by and large loud,

bombastic and one-note, with too few jumping out as distinctive or memorable.

But it might be interesting to see where Kittie are in a few years, once

their chops improve and their teen angst evolves into good old-fashioned

cynicism.

Though Spit is far from sugarcoated or commercial, there is a vague

underlying sense of gimmickry to the whole endeavor. The sheer familiarity

of many of the songs begs the question: If this band was comprised of four

teen-age boys, would there be anything here of note at all? Of course,

it may be that sort of narrow-minded statement from square, curmudgeonly

critics that contributes to Kittie's sense of defensiveness, not to mention

all that anger.