I disappeared for a few days and I’m sorry. My city is hurting and I felt my time was better spent with boots to the pavement than writing reviews. This week has been a complete blur and there seems to be no end in sight but I know I need some new music to help calm me down so let’s dig into this pile of albums that has been growing on my desk starting with I Hate Kate’s ‘Embrace the Curse’.
“Bed of Black Roses” kicks off this album and instantly drew me in with ease. This powerful and anthemic track absolutely gets this album started off right. Even with the undeniable sense of power that this song brings to the table, there’s a sensitivity felt in the chorus that has me so intrigued to see what else this album has in store. Before I knew it, “Bed of Black Roses” gave way to “It’s Always Better” which was an instant favorite of mine. Still just as anthemic and full of power, “It’s Always Better” brings a pop-punk-infused vibe to the album in all of the right ways. The chorus of this track is punchy and ear-wormy while, again, having a sense of sensitivity in the words that refuses to be ignored.
Things take a darker turn for “Then You Kiss” while remaining hopelessly upbeat and infectious. The first comparison that comes to mind for this track is Panic at the Disco. “Then You Kiss” has something a bit more theatrical about it compared to the previous tracks while still being distinctly that of I Hate Kate. I was so captivated by this track that the more ambient beginning of “Inside Inside” honestly caught me off guard. This track kicks off with fuzzy guitar work before blasting into a song that has a bit more of an industrial feeling beat to it. It’s almost as if the darkness I felt in “Then You Kiss” is expanded in the instrumentation of this track while the vocals continue to stand out as pop-punk perfection. They have an edge to them and each word seems to come with a sense of bitterness attached. Much like the opening track of this album, “Inside Inside” has a driving beat that made this track fly by.
I Hate Kate really shows their versatility on “I’m In Love With A Sociopath”. This track starts off with a very standard indie-pop beat before the vocals come in with that almost theatrical tone catapulting this track into a place I wasn’t quite expecting. The chorus of this track is yet again nothing short of ear-wormy with a more classic punk vibe in the vein of The Ramones. This track is a full little bop but, like the other tracks, seemed to end before I was done thoroughly enjoying it.
“It’s You” slows things down and the sensitivity felt in the words of the previous tracks manifests into a full-on love song. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still an undeniable sense of power in this track but, overall, this song just feels more ballad-like compared to the rest. The sound in this track is huge and absolutely arena-ready in all of the right ways. Sadly, I’m not in the mood for a love song like this today so I was relieved as “Story I Can’t Write” took over my speakers. This track brings the band back to land and brings a sound that is super reminiscent of The Killers at the beginning before switching back to I Hate Kate’s distinct pop-punk-drenched sound.
The title track of this album, “Embrace The Curse”, came up quickly after “Story I Can’t Write”. There’s something a little bit more generic about this track. I feel like generic may be a harsh word here and leave some negative connotation behind it. Don’t get me wrong, this track is great and full of power as the rest of the album but there’s just something a bit more “radio-friendly” about this track that I just didn’t really like but, no need to fear, the band snaps back to something a bit more unique for “Major Tom (Coming Home)”. Again, with a more theatrical style to the vocals, this track instantly captivated me. It moves through so many different genres that it would be impossible to list them all while the song is playing so please allow me to just sit back and enjoy this song as it plays out.
“The Thrill” has a sense of swagger to it that I wish I had picked up on previously. Regardless of if that swagger had been there in previous tracks and I just missed it or not, it really stood out in this track in all of the right ways. Much like “Story I Can’t Write”, I was getting huge The Killers vibes through the chorus but I wouldn’t jump to that comparison for this song as a whole. What do I mean by that? Honestly, it’s so hard to explain but I Hate Kate has a sound that clearly draws on so many different influences that, even though I can throw names at you, that just doesn’t do this band’s sound justice.
Even though this album is coming to an end, I Hate Kate doesn’t hold back throwing new things as the listener. “Love Association” brings back that more ballad-like style of “It’s You” while having the bitter-edged words that seemed to be a theme throughout this album. I love how this track seemed to build and I would ready myself for an explosion of sound but never quite got that. Thankfully, I got that explosion of sound as the album closed out with “Outta My Head”. This final song is the perfect exclamation point to a great album. It has a little bit of everything– the anthemic power, theatrical vocals, pop-punk drenched influence while still being accessible to those that may not consider themselves to be a fan of the pop-punk genre.
‘Embrace the Curse’ by I Hate Kate is all over the place. Thankfully, all of the places this album took me were places I love. This is definitely a great listen and, although I can tell you my favorite and least favorite tracks easily, it’s one of those albums that, as a whole, is pure perfection.
My Favorite Track(s): “It’s Always Better”; “Then you Kiss”
For Fans Of: Anthemic Power; Theatrical Undertones; Distinct Sounds With Familiar Influences
Mosh-ability: 7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie slept on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.7 out of 10
Check Out I Hate Kate Here:
I Hate Kate on Facebook (they recently changed their name to Darling Thieves)
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