Melbourne-born and Boston-based singer-songwriter KiKi‘s debut release,  Don’t!, released June 22, is a well-balanced EP that easily blends elements of pop, rock and classical music with a live recording technique that makes the indie pop music sound genuine. The music on Don’t! is catchy and upbeat, but at the same time, KiKi’s formal training as a singer and piano player shines through.

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Body paint by Erika Beiza. Photo by Bonnie Jarrett.

Right from the start, the title track heavily features KiKi’s strong vocals and gorgeous piano runs amidst the dreaminess and surf-rock guitar chords of the song. It’s a beautiful musical blend, as is most of the EP; on the next song, “sick of today,” the combination of thick strings and pretty piano make the track feel heavy like a summer rainstorm.

KiKi uses a live recording technique on this EP that adds a layer of authenticity to her music, and the music sounds almost as if it’s being performed in person. Her lyrics, too, are genuine: on “falling in crush,” though she is clearly infatuated with the song’s subject, she sings cynically about not being in love (“‘Cause the last boy to love me broke my heart/Turns out that he was only bluffing/And to love again is just too hard”).

But on this EP, KiKi’s authenticity comes through best on “MAGA,” a track about being sick of the political polarity she noticed when she moved to America.

“I was so frustrated about the fact that politics was being shoved down my throat all the time that one morning I just got up and wrote a song about it,” said KiKi in an email to Indientry. “And then I called it ‘MAGA’ to make my band nervous.”

“MAGA” opens with samples of newscasters and chanting crowds before slowly pulsing with bright piano and guitar melodies and clean vocals (“Why do you fight/Over who’s wrong or right?”).

The highlight of the EP, though, is the third track of six: “steel hearts” is a languid, loping track with straightforward instrumentals and a great balance of instruments to vocals. KiKi is still cynical about being honest to her love (“If I tell you that I like you/You’ll be gone in a blink”), but the track is strong and a layer of humming vocals adds an interesting texture to the smooth piano background.

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Photo by Bonnie Jarrett.

Though Don’t! is only her debut EP, it is clear that KiKi’s musical background has served her well thus far in her indie-pop career: Don’t! is a catchy, energetic and well-blended EP with unique textures and smooth vocals.

Stream KiKi’s Don’t! EP via SoundCloud or any streaming service, and check it out on Spotify below:

Originally published on Indientry on June 25, 2019.