EP Review: Kid Sistr – Kid Sistr

Gritty, witty, and provocative, Kid Sistr’s self-titled EP challenges the hypermasculinity of alt rock with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. The indie band consists of three artists with flourishing solo careers: Isabella Engert (Sabel) shredding her signature pink Telecaster, Sara Keden ripping bass, and Rebecca Webster gluing the group together with punchy backbeats. The group formed in New York, where they gained a substantial following gigging, and they have now taken over TikTok, where their videos have gained just shy of 1M likes. If you’re a fan of HAIM, MUNA, Blondie, or The Bangles, Kid Sistr will be your next addiction.

The EP kicks off with the Joan Jett-esque rock-and-roll “Little Sister Song,” dedicated to “snarky younger siblings and rom-com teenager-dom.” Short, punchy, and sweet, the song explores protective sisterly love. The three women of Kid Sistr are actually all older sisters: a fact that informed the group’s name initially, and has since guided their creative identity. “Little Sister Song” not only speaks to their shared experience of sisterhood, but also to the rocky coming-of-age journey that all young women experience. Loud and unapologetic, Sabel and Keden belt out, “She’s got a sweet disposition, she walks like a woman and talks like a little girl / She’ll be better off without you / Careful who you run your mouth to / You can’t do her any favors / She’s doing fine.”

Channeling the high school angst of a Brat Pack film, “Please Dump Him” sets up a scene of a girl “standing in her sky blue prom dress waiting for a compliment, staring at the bleachers in the big game knowing he’s not coming out.” With equal parts satire and slapstick, the song relays the frustration of watching a friend going out with somebody who (frankly) sucks. Radiating feminist energy and a 1980s new wave vibe, “Please Dump Him” is an instant banger, with lines like: “He doesn’t have celiac, he’s just an asshole / And his fabricated gluten-intolerance is the tip of the iceberg!”

Musically speaking, “Dallas” might be the best song on the EP. In a dreamy soundscape of distorted guitar and lackadaisical basslines, you’ll get lost in its sensuous harmonies and rich textures. The song drags in just the right way, creating a slow, relaxed vibe that draws the listener in before hitting them with the stop-start hook: “Dallas, if you want my soul / Baby you can have it / You can take control.”

Lyrically, “Simple Math” emulates an Impressionistic vision of heartache. In a wash of pastel colors and floral scents, Kid Sistr delivers a loose, unharnessed ballad. With the hook, “I keep falling back on simple math, it’s all I have,” the track navigates the messy feelings of anger, nostalgia, and self-sabotage that follow a breakup. Keden and Sabel’s voices compliment each other beautifully, panned left and right so their harmonies envelop the listener. The song climaxes in a series of wails belted out over breathy backup vocals that drag, “Still listening to all your albums / Hands bloodied from my nostalgia.”

In “Peter Gabriel,” the last track on the album, we hear a grandmother’s voicemail saying how much she loves the band and how the girls sound together. Mirroring the mother’s voicemail from the intro of “Little Sister Song,” these messages bookend the EP, passing on words from one generation of women to the next. In a tender yet defiant tribute to sisterhood, Kid Sistr’s debut EP seems to speak to the power of love between women: older sisters looking out for their younger siblings, mothers guiding their daughters, women supporting women in the world of rock-and-roll. Multi-dimensional, razor-sharp, and unapologetic, Kid Sistr is paving the way to a new kind of alternative music.

Gemma Laurence

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