The story of rock n’ roll starts and ends with machismo, and if you look at a lot of the rock making headlines in 2021, it’s missing this one key ingredient. Gone are the chest-pounding beats that once made an entire arena filled to the brim with people rise to their feet in comradery, the epic solos, the endless vocal harmonies that seem to go on into infinity; in their place, a lackluster sense of equilibrium and fewer charismatic bandleaders than ever before.
Though they leave a lot of the coarse sexuality and angst that their predecessors reveled in at the door, there’s a lyrical and musical tether between Vicious Kitty and the legends in rock that is hard to ignore when listening to their new single “Mr. Darkness,” but I don’t know that this act qualifies as another throwback band in a sea of bar-quality groups trying to make a living these days. “Mr. Darkness” is take-no-prisoners-style rock music that puts the pressure on the guitar to enrapture the audience more than it does a sexy lyric, allowing for maximum sonic depth and a creative spirit to run as wild as it would have back in the ‘70s.
One of the first things I noticed about this single was its unique mix, which puts as much emphasis on the bottom-end grooving as it does the masterful fretwork occupying the spotlight at the top of the track, which is something that I haven’t seen many other bands trying in the last few years. Rather than sounding overwhelmed by the chaos, our singer really adjusts to the intensity of his backdrop magnificently in “Mr. Darkness,” seeming to become the titular lyrical protagonist before our very ears (and well before we hit the halfway mark in the song).
Vicious Kitty’s verses aren’t nearly as important to understanding the narrative of the track as the actual way they’re being delivered unto us is, and with regards to execution, I don’t know that I’ve heard a tighter unit playing hard rock music all year long. They’ve got harmonies that feel superior to just about everyone I’ve heard playing this style out of Seattle in the last few months, if not the whole of 2021 itself, and it’s because of a rich chemistry that you can’t fake in or outside of the studio – it’s got to be natural or not there at all.
The legacy of iconic Seattle rockers lives on through the talented craftsmanship of material like this, and while I just found out about this band a little while ago, I think it’s pretty clear that they’ve got an appeal that is going to transcend the retro demographic that prefers old fashioned riffing to anything in the new school. There’s a lot of moxie in “Mr. Darkness” that I don’t seem to find in any of the pop music landing on my desk right now, and that makes both it and Vicious Kitty worthy of a second (and third) look this October and beyond.
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