After dropping her stellar debut album Trophy in 2019, Kate Davis is back with another strong blend of indie pop and alt-rock. Davis’ ability to fuse her classical training from the Manhattan School of Music, with a great ear for modern pop, shined on some of the highlight moments on Trophy like “Daisy” and “Cloud”. Despite specializing more in jazz than pop or rock while in school, Davis has done an incredible job blending these styles, and harnessed her skill as a songwriter on her second album Fish Bowl.
Davis’s real skill as a songwriter helps carry her second album. “Consequences” is an incredibly written track that wouldn’t be out of place on some of St. Vincent‘s earlier projects. The track has an interesting narrative of questioning one’s existence and purpose when you feel like the best way to deal with the difficulties facing you and those around you is to not exist.
‘On the shore
the medium told me
I will grind for eternity
and what’s more
I’ll never be rid of a hex
that my ex’s mom put on me
I melt down
in this cheap plastic chair
where my heart had forgotten
that you were near to me
and waiting there ever patiently’
Fellow single “Long Long Long” has an enthralling wistful subject and style about reminiscing when listening to Kylie Minogue. The title track is another wonderful track with some familiar themes of COVID malaise, while also having one of the more enjoyable hooks the album has to offer. Fish Bowl finishes on a real high with the track “Reckoning.” The drums that come in to close the track out are stellar, and help turn what starts out as a pretty simple, mellow, and enjoyable guitar track into an extremely strong closer that really stand outs.
The production of Fish Bowl is just as strong as the songwriting. At times reminiscent of artists that blend pop sounds with alt-rock instrumentation like Sharon Van Etten, or illuminati hotties at their poppier moments, the production complements Davis very well.
“Monster Mash” is a short yet very catchy single, and a great opener for the album. With an incredibly energetic beat and a killer bridge before the track closes, it’s a great intro for Fish Bowl and perfectly sets up what the rest of the album will entail. “Ride or Die” has a wonderfully complex instrumental, starting with a simple acoustic guitar and then slowly adding more and more until the excellent crescendo on the hook, and is one of the real high points of the album.
“People Are Doing” also stands out – but not for a good reason. The track starts off well, but the vocals on the second half of the track are heavily drowned out by the guitar speeding its way through the track and the vocals become incredibly difficult to make out. It doesn’t help that the start of the second verse has a very strange stop-start that even further interrupts the flow.
Davis’s previous album Strange Boy (largely a cover album of Daniel Johnston’s Retired Boxer), was filled with tracks that finished under the two-minute mark, and thankfully that’s not so much the case this time around. “yoyo” and “dd” are both on great starters for tracks and could have been more, but as is they’re still solid (mainly “dd”, which is delightful.)
While it may be missing some of the highs of Trophy, Fish Bowl is should be a must listen for anyone that has an affinity for high quality indie pop with great production and stellar songwriting. As her first full length for Anti, this is a sign of great things to come from Kate Davis as an artist to watch going forward in the indie pop scene.