|Kill Hannah - For Never and Ever|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2003|
Kill Hannah is a Chicago-area band that dress like Goths, but sounds a whole lot like another popular Midwestern act, the Smashing Pumpkins. For Never And Ever is, to name another obvious influence, what the Smiths might have sounded like had they come along a few decades later and rocked a lot harder -- and maybe had a less androgynous lead singer. This is an album of depressing music, created by depressed individuals.
One song is called “New Heart For Christmas,” which is one unhappy little holiday number, and a tune that will never end up in any Christmas caroler repertoires. Matt Devine’s vocal on it is desperate, which is the adjective that best describes every one of his vocals here. He sings it over a plodding synth/guitar melody, which brings up another sticking point. It is difficult to figure out if this is a keyboard band or a guitar band, since it alternates often between these two distinct sonic approaches throughout. For instance, “No One Dreams Anyway” (which is kind of a downer sentiment, don’t you think?) begins with a strummed electric guitar, before windy synths enter into the mix. This one has a fairly quiet Devine vocal (that is, of course, before the track wakes up and rocks about midway along). “Is Anyone Here Alive?” begins with pounding drums, and although it’s a guitar rocker, it sounds a little like what Depeche Mode might have become had it chosen amplified six strings over dance synths. In other words, Kill Hannah might be best described as a guitar body covering a synthesizer soul.
The Smiths resemblance is most obvious on “Boys & Girls,” which rolls like a much harder-rocking Smiths track, and equally apparent with “Unwanted,” which is a chugging rocker with lyrics that Morrissey might be more than proud to sing. “Unwanted, unneeded/you've always been mistreated/hang on! (don't do what they say to)/Unwanted, and been for so long /say, "hey Mom! I'm never coming home again!"
Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode and the Smiths are all excellent musical heroes, but Kill Hannah needs to do much more than just ape the artists it admires so deeply. The main problem with For Never And Ever is that there is nothing about it that sets this band apart from the aforementioned groundbreakers that preceded it. Behaving “down in the dumps” has always been a big part of the rock ‘n’ roll vocabulary, but such a bi-polar condition can be expressed much more creatively than it is presented here. There is no new thing under the artistic sun, just new ways of rearranging the older elements. Once Kill Hannah discovers how to put an original spin on its melancholy sentiments, it may just evolve into one killer band.