Naysayer Kitten Time

Is it possible to be more deadpan than Lou Reed? Anna Padgett, aka the Naysayer, seems perfectly willing to give the reigning king of moodiness a run for his money. On her new release, Kitten Time, the Naysayer has supplanted much of the playful mood of her music with a darker and sometimes dour approach that could, if you’re not paying attention, be mistaken for misery. The truth is Kitten Time has little or nothing to do with malaise and everything to do with simply being bizarre with a straight face. Think Syd Barrett post-Pink Floyd and without the mental illness and you’re on the right track. Odes to shrimp with a "Danny Boy” hymnal string section and a stream-of-consciousness rant about New Jersey are what we’ve come to expect from Padgett but, if it’s possible, she’s jammed her tongue even harder into her cheek. Songs like "Are You Still Weird?” and "I Seen Death (and it ain’t pretty)” nearly drown in their own deadpan delivery but are saved every time by some little thing: a whistled refrain, a nonsensical chorus or some other little bit of musical oddness breaks the illusion and shows Padgett smirking sardonically behind the dirge-like tempos and often minimalist instrumentation. Unlike her previous records (most notably last year’s Pure Beauty EP) Padgett requires that her audience listen for the gag; if you’re not listening, you’ll hate Kitten Time. Everything on the album is a delayed punch line. In any given verse two lines will be scarifyingly serious until you’re thrown by the last line (scan "my eyes are wettin’ because you keep not lettin’/our love grow you’ve got it chained under heavy, man-made, Anna-proof locks” from "Yellow In Amarillo”). How well Kitten Time works depends entirely upon how far you’re willing to wait; but for the patient, it’s unlikely that a smarter songwriter exists in independent music right now. (Red Panda)