This article originally appeared in DIY Magazine
Katie Von Schleicher called her first release ‘Bleaksploitation,’ a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that, more often than not, her songs weren’t about the happiest of subjects. Continuing to self-produce and co-engineer the tracks that form her debut album proper, she’s also keeping the spirit of the ‘Bleaksploitation’ pun alive on ‘Shitty Hits.’ It’s a pretty self-deprecating title, one that speaks to the emotional turmoil that Katie has faced in her life and the anxiety that, deep down, humans have more than a few flaws.
As such, it’s about an apt a title as you can get because ‘Shitty Hits’ is often a grim representation of failed romance, anxiety, isolation and just about everything in-between. On opener ‘The Image’ she doesn’t hold back, so desperate is she for something to cling on to that she declares that she wants “to live in a museum/ Touch the things that have meaning.” ‘Midsummer’ is almost an ode to the strange comfort of mediocrity, as she sings “I miss the way you tolerate me,” while on the otherwise upbeat ‘Life’s A Lie,’ she stops herself from enacting on her impulses and repeatedly laments “I’m alone.” Even on ‘Nothing,’ which has relatively few lyrics, her sense of feeling hollow inside is made all the more hard to bear by the crushing riffs and grim melodies that threaten to overtake her as much as the dark thoughts themselves.
Despite this gloomy thematic outlook, ‘Shitty Hits’ is also a record that sees Katie brimming with confidence, particularly musically. Under the haze of a lo-fi sheen and her own smooth vocals, she pieces together warped, languid ballads, acoustic numbers, vintage pop and occasional bursts of brass into a collection that feels thoroughly united. Often the swooning nature of her tracks balance out the sadness of her songs, making them poignant testaments to the trials of life. ‘Paranoia’ sees the greatest meeting of music and message, as both Katie’s voice and melodies stutter over the chorus like the creeping onset of troubled thoughts. Her greater sense of assuredness comes to the fore in the album’s final two tracks, where she powerfully declares that she’s “never going down again” over an otherwise chaotic backdrop, and finds resolve on the meditative closer ‘Sell It Back,’ singing “no one’s gonna sell it back/ Over my head.”
So, back to that title then. Katie might nod to her previous anxieties by calling her latest collection ‘Shitty Hits’ but this is a collection that’s far from the output of an artist who’s not fully in control of their own destiny. These are songs you can cry to, but also ones that might just give you a bit of solace and comfort with their sometimes breezy nature. Beyond the turmoil of life, there’s no shit here, just cathartic, sometimes breezy vintage pop that speaks to the human condition.