Phoebe Lease ’21 | Arts Editor
And The Kids has certainly been busy since their 2016 release of “Friends Share Lovers.” The band — consisting of Hannah Mohan on vocals and guitar, Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums and Megan Miller on synthesizers and percussion — opened for Blondie at MASS MoCA and have made appearances in the Paste Magazine studio and NPR’s “Tiny Desk” concert series. Now, the Northampton group is back with their third LP, “When This Life Is Over,” in which they continue to explore the complexity of human connection.
The album starts off almost mournfully with “No Way Sit Back,” in which Mohan contemplates her life as a young adult in uncertain times: “Everything I learned came from the television / I can’t help but feel that I got tunnel vision.” Listeners are immediately aware of Mohan’s impressive vocal control as her voice rings out strong and clear on the chorus, and this is just one of many stunning performances on the album. And The Kids wrote the song as an anthem for marginalized communities that aren’t usually represented positively in the media. As Mohan repeats, “This world was never made for us,” the phrase transforms from a description of a sad reality to an affirmation of personal power.
As told in an interview with Consequence of Sound, the group penned “No Way Sit Back” on Franklin St. in Northampton. In a phone interview, I asked Mohan if any other And The Kids songs were inspired by Western Massachusetts. “Well, there’s ‘Glory Glory’ [from their 2015 release, ‘Turn To Each Other’] ... I wrote that one on Honeypot Road in Hadley. We used to live in tents out there and practice in the storage plot on the land. I remember vividly writing that out there, just watching the river.”
Unfortunately, songwriting has become more difficult since Miller was deported to Canada over visa issues. The group is now used to collaborating online, but they still prefer writing together in person, as they did on tracks “2003” and “Butterfingers.” Although they recorded some songs in Easthampton, they produced most of “When This Life Is Over” in Montreal in order to include Miller in the recording process. Still, this album proves that being physically separated doesn’t stop the band from writing striking lyrical narratives.
One of the most intriguing facets of the group is their existence outside of any particular genre. On their Facebook page, And The Kids uses words like “unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, glitter, popsicle, crisis” to describe their music. When asked about their various musical influences, Mohan said: “I’d say we explored classic rock when Rebecca and I were teenagers, and Megan has explored classical music ... And we’ve explored playing punk music. We also [used to play] noise, like improvised noise pop.”
You can hear this mix of genres on “When This Life is Over”; the title track’s fuzzy, bright guitar is reminiscent of OK Go’s power pop, while “Somethings (Are) Good” uses sparse instrumentation to highlight vocal harmonies that float over the song’s chimes and acoustic guitar. The new album diverges somewhat from And The Kids’ older work of lo-fi bedroom recordings. “I’m pretty psyched to play these two little demo songs [live]” said Mohan. “We did add a little couple somethings to ‘Get To That Place.’ We’re spinning it a little bit.”
And The Kids started their new tour earlier this month and will be in Northampton in April. Mohan said that while in the Western Massachusetts area, she likes to play at the Parlor Room and Hawks & Reed. She spoke a little about life on the road and her favorite stops along the way: “Anytime we drive from Seattle or Portland to California, I always like to go to the Redwoods, and I like to try to stay there as long as I can! [It’s] my favorite place that I’ve been in the country. And in Arkansas, there’s, like, these abandoned crystal mines that I like to go to ... Other than that, I just like to stop at Whole Foods.” Her dog, known sometimes as Little Dog and other times as Grandpa, will be accompanying the band on the road. He’s also featured on the album cover of “When This Life Is Over,” an homage to the cover of Angel Olsen’s 2016 album, “My Woman.”
In the indie pop world, it can feel like bands are constantly springing up out of nowhere, many only sticking around long enough to make their mark in a TV commercial before fading into obscurity. It is not so with And The Kids. The complexities of their music are revealed with each additional listen and are likely to stick with you long after listening. “When This Life Is Over” is a soundtrack to existential dread, capable of both soothing the listener and provoking deep, yearning emotion. If you’re not already a fan of And The Kids, this album will probably make you one.