Human Kitten, the project of Ocean City, Maryland based folk punk artist Elijah Llinas, last released a 16 track album titled I’m Afraid of Everything on October 31, 2016 and hinted that it may be the last release under the Human Kitten moniker. But there was certainly more to be said, a detailing of the relatable grey state of youth shadowed by mental illness in the form of Velvet Waltz.
Originally this release was planned to be a duo of companion EPs, playing off each other and showing two sides of things. This core idea is still present in the mirroring of the album, such as “Stuck Neverlasting” to “Luck Everlasting.” The latter presents a similar state of mind, but swings to a more positive outlook and the feeling of change within reach. Two other companion tracks “Bedroom at Midnight” and “Living Room at Noon” mirror each other in structure. “Bedroom” starts out as a slow and melancholic look at life and builds into an angry determination, whilst “Living Room” starts as upbeat but still vitriolic and moves down into that depressively real side.
The strong vocals followed by a shaky voice barely holding it together perfectly encapsulate the emotions behind the album. The wails of ‘Nothing at all‘ on “Sensory Deprivation” and ‘…a person who you truly believe has earned love‘ on “Living Room at Noon” show a growth in Elijah’s vocals, and the togetherness of the release show his growth as a songwriter. The album has an overall theme of youth and depression, stagnation and realization, growth and loss, and feels like a natural progression from I’m Afraid of Everything with a more cohesive structure.
Velvet Waltz is a look into a relatable depression in the modern day, everyday life, and an occasional lighthearted take on metaphor within a darker construction. Elijah covers everything from social expectations to introversion and video games, with a lot of incredibly well fitting lines such as ‘24 years old I’m still afraid of the telephone.’ The album has some Ghost Mice vibes in the power and the instrumentals, albeit with less tempo, but on a personal level rather than the societal level Ghost Mice discuss frequently.
Overall a more melancholic mood surrounds the album than other Human Kitten releases, with moments of biting anger and pits of crushing dejection. An emotive folk-punk experience that’s just as easy to relate to as it is to sing along, a story of mental illness, introversion, and the desire to grow beyond that and find a better place to stand.