On her 11th studio album, KISS OFF KISS, Erin McKeown stays true to her genre-bending artistic identity, combining her observations of love with reminders of the power of independence.
Across 13 songs, the beloved singer-songwriter captures both sides of the coin when it comes to love, showing off the playful side through peppy, ’80s-leaning melodies while recognizing its thorns through angsty rock numbers. She opens the eclectic, breakup-inspired album with “Cupido Stupido,” setting forth the album’s thesis statement through LOL-worthy lyrics, “how could someone so smart / Be so suddenly stupid / To think somehow / I would reinvent cupid.”
On follow-up “Litany for a Minor Character,” killer guitar solos unite with spoken word poetry, leading into the singer’s confession of being a walking contradiction with “On / Off Heart” as she passes from one extreme to the other, whether “freezing cold or paradise hot” and “I’m all in or I feel nothing.” She leans into the dark side of love on “Switch Shadows,” a jazz-style ballad that finds two people embracing one another’s darkness before their shadows ultimately set them free. She chases this with the moody “Details of the Crime,” a bluesy, smoldering number that flexes her musical chops on one of the album’s best songs, the marriage of the bass and electric guitar creating an air of mystery as she croons, “I never look for love / But I invite it still / Open my locks, do with me what you will.”
But McKeown is intentional about adding a little sweet to the salt with the sassy title track in which she shamelessly sends an ex away with a “kiss off.” “A little gray area’s my weakness,” she admits over an ’80s pop beat that is bound to bring a smile. But through her love debacles, the Virginia native claims her independence. Equipped with doo-wop vibes on the self-love ode “My Own Baby,” McKeown comes out of the heartbreak as a woman who can fulfill her own needs and is willing to go so far as to take a vow with herself, as told through confident lyrics, “I am my own baby now, I am my own from now on.” She continues to solidify her own self-worth on the clever “Today/Sex,” proclaiming, “When I make time for you, it’s a fucking gift, that you can’t buy in any store, so you better be grateful.”
On KISS OFF KISS, McKeown crafts intriguing songs and engaging melodies that reflect her diverse sound and uniquely artistic spirit.