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Kilo Kish’s wit, intelligence, and imagination take centre stage on AMERICAN GURL


Release date: 25 March 2022
Kilo kish american gurl art
07 April 2022, 06:44 Written by Sam Franzini
For a musician, whose work is (usually) tasked with providing easy-listening songs distracting from personal lives, a concept album detailing the absurdities of American life is a perilous move.

The “we live in a society” record, which is more commentary on life than guilt-free pop collection, is a high risk, high reward career move. Janet Jackson provided grooves and commentary in equal measure with Rhythm Nation 1814 and produced a career-defining work, but Madonna took herself too seriously with American Life. Recently, MARINA’s Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land was a welcome sonic reprieve from past efforts, it still dawdled with superficial observations. With electro-alternative artist Kilo Kish’s AMERICAN GURL, however, she masters the formula of how to make pop music with a message, one that doesn’t make you feel bad listening to it.

The album is bookended by two skits – “PLAY” and “CONTINUE?” – which set up the project and explain the video game effects littered through the album. On the intro, two women enter an arcade and the “AMERICAN GURL” game catches their eye and decide to play. The album that follows is essentially the game, an incredibly smart move – every idea, concept, or theme is delivered with a wink in Kish’s eye. It’s all just part of the bit… Or is it?

The title track is the most straightforward pop song on the album –featuring a catchy beat and horn-like synths, Kish questions, “Who are you, baby? / Who are you keeping around?” Then declares, “I’m changing places / So I can’t see you anymore.” Her ambitions are simply too much for everyone else; her satirical worldview posits herself as enlightened, above it all. And she’s not sorry about it either – “NO APOLOGY!”, which comes later, is all about the absence of remorse.

“NEW TRICKS: ART, AESTHETICS AND MONEY”, the best song on the album, is a braggadocious banger delivered in the smartest, most polite way possible. Other rappers get to the point – I have so much money! – but Kish’s intelligent, even poetic lyricism comes through with “A Linx, a platinum leash / Affixed to my wallet / My hand, my stone-laced hand / Affixed to my pocket.” Frequent collaborator Vince Stapes is a feature on this track, but just ad-libs; he knows the focus is on Kish and her allegories of dogs, control, and obedience. “Man, you’re yanking my collar / Can’t dance for your dollar again,” she croons over the harsh beat.

The penultimate track, “INTELLIGENT DESIGN” seems like a reference to artificial intelligence, the future, and dystopian visions; The “Hello! Hello!” chants on the chorus bring to mind the “Hello, World!” output programs of AI. “I get up just to say / ‘I still want what this is now,’” Kish says on the pre-chorus, jaded by the onslaught of future technical progress.

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