Kevin Tihista is back after a seven-year hiatus with an album of his laid back, catchy pop songs. And very pretty pop it is too, though tragic. Filled with tales of failed, finished, and thwarted romances, all still longed for, and the occasional undertow of violence.
The album is largely acoustic, but it’s in what he sings that really makes the songs shine. A variation in a melody line or the pleasing way the chorus follows from the verse in the likes of the deceptive North Carolina and Teenage Werewolf. Highlights are the first two numbers, Taking It To The Streets (Again) and Bats, where the paralyzing stillness of heartbreak is juxtaposed with the vastness of the city and the drunken coping mechanisms explored within. Although the opening joke of Jack K doesn’t need to be repeated four times, the song nevertheless tells an amusing story, and can be downloaded for free at the label page here. The relaxed shuffle of North Carolina is very pretty although the underlying creepiness is a little unsettling. The calmly sung Don’t Let Him In takes disturbing many steps further. At one point it seems the man in question could be Santa Claus, and then the rest of the song is spent wishing it had been as the reminiscence grows more and more horrible. At odds with the rest of the record, closer Country Road is full of pleasant positivity, a joyous tune with only a hint of menace in the distorted guitar part.
Apparently, having a plethora of recent songs to choose from, Tihista (rhymes with fiesta) decided to focus on the more somber ones for this album and there’s a record of pop songs waiting to be recorded. The melodic hints contained within On This Dark Street promise much for such a project.