By Davis Blount
While Kitfox officially released their debut album this week, this band has made themselves a fixture in the local music scene. Since their humble beginnings in 2012, Kitfox has been able to rub shoulders with local greats like VanLadyLove, perform in two (coming up on three) appearances at Les Femmes De Velour, and draw audiences statewide at many of the state’s best-known venues. From all of these formative experiences as a band, Kitfox formulated a debut album that is a force to be reckoned with.
To Keep You Company slips seamlessly from track to track, the whole 41 minutes of playtime feeling more like 10. There is something profound in Emilee Holgate’s beautiful vocal styling. With a voice that is vaguely reminiscent of Madeline Follin of CULTS, Holgate’s voice finds a smart match with the unobtrusive guitar accompaniment. From the album’s opening track, “Ghost,” the band finds synchrony that many first-time albums fall short of. Sweeping “oohs” and subtle instrumentals create an introspective soundscape that is, appropriately, haunting. From the whimsical and touching tracks to those that take a more somber tone, this album is one for almost any mood.
The album is not without its standout tracks: “Nightfall,” “Runaway,” and “Always Keep You Warm” stay with their listeners long after the initial listen. In an almost hypnotic fashion, Kitfox’s repeated loops do not work as filler audio, but rather a kind of earworm that is left to reverberate in your mind for hours to come. Days later, this writer still finds himself repeating the beautiful sentiment captured in the album’s closing track: “I can’t live without you here/ Please take me with you and I’ll keep you… warm.”
While the charming lyrics are undoubtedly a strong point for the album, To Keep You Company is a fine work on many fronts. Kitfox’s band of Devon Smith, Conor Flynn, and Nate Dukatz show their range of versatility and sensibility to match Holgate’s beautiful alto. At times, the band sounded almost like a beach pop group with uncluttered and steady guitar riffs. At other points the band could have fit the bill at a indie folk show. The pairing between instrumentals and vocals, however, was always welcome and pleasantly well thought out.
As a whole, this album deserves widespread attention and accolades. To those who are familiar with Kitfox’s work to this point, this album validates a band that is well known and widely celebrated in the local community. To those unfamiliar with their work, To Keep You Company ought to be a strong evidence of the band’s promise and overall tightness. You see, debut albums like this don’t come along all that often. Unlike many of the other first-time-record bands, Kitfox has had time to let their sonic aesthetic distill into something entirely their own. While this release has been a long time in the making, it is the very thing that makes this album good to the last drop.
Make sure to follow Kitfox on Instagram and listen to “Nightfall” below.