When I first came across Kill Hannah, I naturally speculated about the origin of the Chicago band’s moniker. Who is Hannah? Is someone being ordered to kill her? Is it a wish? A plea? Was there a breakup? Maybe Hannah was a pet. Did she have to be put to sleep? Did Hannah attack a mailman?
After popping in the band’s second album, “Until There’s Nothing Left of Us,” I began to realize the untimely fate of Hannah. Poor girl must have overdosed on too much mediocre mainstream electro-space-rock. My condolences to Hannah’s family.
From the beginning of “Life in the Arctic,” I knew I was in for something either artsy and pretty or ordinary and mundane. A short, unintelligible dialogue gives way to a bass line and distant guitar screeches before big drums and a bouncing piano take over. The inherent overproduction points the band toward a space-rock sound which becomes more evident as the album chugs along.
“Believer,” the second track, is the proverbial kick-in-the-behind where the band realizes they need to do something productive. Enter the corny synth line, crashing power chords, and the vocals of Mat Devine. Ah, Mat Devine. He sings with a hushed tone and as-of-yet unparalleled androgyny. There’s so much estrogen in the vocals that I bring up the notion that he may have been Hannah in a past life.
“Lips Like Morphine” is perfect for radio and television. The synth is as prevalent as ever, the drums are stale and reek of recycling, and as Devine proclaims that he wants “a girl with lips like morphine,” the tweens are already arriving at his doorstep with love notes and a burning desire for a hug.
The rest of the album is more of the same – tracks so similar that they could be interchanged, synth stolen straight from the 1980s, and more of Devine’s contrived lyrical wit. “Crazy Angel” opens with a woman (Hannah?) asking, and I quote, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve done recently?” It makes me shiver with nausea. The fact that the chillingly annoying line is repeated halfway through the song only worsens matters. “Sleep Tight” functions as an end to the album and is simply a replay of the introduction with added lyrics. It seems a tacked-on afterthought, a good idea with not-so-good execution.
I make “Until There’s Nothing Left of Us” sound worse than it is. Granted, somewhere between the reused drum beats, cheesy synth lines and boring lyrics, the music inadvertently finds ways to be mildly interesting. But for all the bits of music salvaged from the trash heap, the majority of the album is transposable filler and in the end the entire product is as average as average gets. However, judging by the band’s “market us” image and made-for-radio style, Kill Hannah is definitely going places. Good for them, but after listening to their sophomore release, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hannah just isn’t my type.
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