YouTube has a long-documented history of birthing pop megastars. From tween magnets Charlie Puth and James Bay to everyone’s favourite DUI felon Justin Bieber, an increasing number of mainstream artists earned their audiences wailing into MacBooks.
Unlike the aforementioned heavyweights, Daytona Beach artist Kitty began her career rapping about allergies and anxiety over MF Doom beats. But her (very) long-awaited LP is so well polished that the label 'pop megastar' might not be completely out of reach.
Miami Garden Club - funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign - solidifies an aesthetic that Kitty has been brewing since she first started vlogging back in 2010. Smashing together unpolished vocals, 8-bit and 80s pop hallmarks, she creates a sound that's surprisingly coherent and frequently beautiful. Those trademark, uber-femme bars are loaded with a powerful honesty. And with them, Kitty tells the mundane drama of late adolescence - unrequited love, un-returned phone calls and an awkward clamouring for coolness and relevancy.
It's a credit to the robustness of Kitty's sound (and the handful of producers that have collaborated with her here) that it endures through wild eclecticism. Lead single "Miami Garden Club" is a slice of 'proper' dubstep that, without Kitty's breathy vox, could've been cut from an old school Deep Medi sampler. Affectionate, by contrast, juxtaposes a bedrock of 90s breaks with a bittersweet post-breakup poem ('I'll never sit impatient / Dreaming baby when you're gonna call / It's only your imagination / 'Cause I don't ever think of you at all). Elsewhere, the seashore sounds and crushed synths of Overpass recall Anticon's Baths and Miyazaki movie soundtracks.
Not everything is perfect - but that's perhaps expected for an album with such a variable palette. "Asari Love Story" slides a little too close to pastiche. There's a remarkably committed guitar solo halfway through this track – like, Marillion committed – but something a little jarring about Kitty's full embrace of 80s new wave. Similarly, "509 Sea Breeze" falls short, with synths that feel picked for nostalgic clout rather than sonic synergy.
But even through the album's weaker moments, the crafted, claustrophobic, teen-girl-bedroom vibe shines through. Miami Garden Club is a dream of a record, inviting the listener into the depths of an endless Floridian summer. In it, you can hear Kitty - who made her name giggle-rapping into the internet - find that a crisp intersection between the ironic lo-fi and high-shine pop she was clearly born to make. An excellent debut, and well worth the wait.