With a cosmic calm taking control like a cyber virus in your brain, Kristin Kontrol has seamlessly combined retro dance pop and modern day electropop rock with her debut solo album X-Communicate.
Kristin Kontrol Stirs the Supernatural
Like the cool breeze of a summer blockbuster, “Show Me” opens with smooth dynamic percussion, tin drums, and wood blocks. The soothing vocals of Kristin Kontrol glide effortlessly over the dance beat, even when “it all becomes unbearably heavy.” When she sings with her crisp vocals, “there’s no need to change yourself, I’ll take you as you are,” she stages the mood with her immense brightness.
“White Street” begins with a rock guitar riff melting an 80s technopop rhythmic drum pattern. In tune with these instrumentals is the electric energy from Kristin’s 90s alternative vocals and melody, reminding me of listening to “As I Lay” by Sophie B. Hawkins on cassette in the car during my childhood.
“(Don’t) Wannabe” induces the same beauty elements as “Show Me” with precise and intentional vocals and a softer sound: “don’t you wanna be something to someone.” As the dance beat in “(Don’t) Wannabe” intensifies, background vocals wailing, you may have the sudden urge to break out and dance wherever you are in that moment—perhaps around your living room or through the halls of your office.
In “X-Communicate,” Kristin’s vocals merge with the strong electronic beat and instrumentation, stirring a supernatural vibe. Kristin Kontrol showcases her vocal variety and ability—like a contemporary version of an early Madonna—with fuller lower notes alongside a higher pitched head voice.
Sunny Vibes Over Smooth Synths
With sun-ray heat-wave guitar sounds and synthesized vocals mixed with luau synths and pulsating drums, “X-Communicate” is the perfect blend of modern dance pop beats and the new wave vocals of the late 80s: “we are etchings of all that transpired.”
“Skin Shed” waves in slowly, with stripy synth sax sounds echoing video game music—specifically, for me, like theme music from Sonic. Kristin Kontrol sings “on the radio,” stinging through a machine at the beginning until the “skid shed[s].”
A foil to the beginning of the song, the center of “Skin Shed” soars with a crystalized solar synth and ethereally elegant vocals. Even Kristin comments, “is my voice really this soft”—her voice is celestial.
“What is Love” stages a mournful quality with piano chords moving in a progression. As the drums crescendo and strengthen, “What is Love” picks up to a more hopeful, peaceful legato phrasing and beautiful harmonies: “change is hard/but I need a change of heart.”
The smoky quality and distant spaced out quality of “Smoke Rings” not only mirrors the song title brilliantly, but is also the perfect closing song. “Smoke Rings” lingers, like smoke rings swirl through the air until they are no longer there, leaving you with the tingles of excitement of finishing a good book or a great album.