KATIE’$ MONEY: In the key of Ween with a debt to the Violent Femmes and a fondness for Jonathan Richman. “SPLIT IN TWO” is their debut album.
By the time KATIE’$ MONEY’s first album strikes its last note, SPLIT IN TWO will have revealed itself to be - among other things - an extraordinarily well named debut. Besides hinting at the respective identities of its two members and their creative process, it suggests, rather profoundly, that the act of splitting isn’t so much about separating as it is a consequence of creating.
While there’s little doubt ANDY HOPPER and MATTHEW GUNN PARK rejoice in riding the schism between the familiar and the unusual, the true fruits of their labor are never more evident than when something deeper and more resonant unexpectedly rises to the surface. Whether or not this is the result of two musical backgrounds coming together (Silverlake, CA and Brooklyn, NY respectively) or, perhaps, the product of sharing the duties of frontman and tunesmith (they often write the lyrics for the other to sing) is finally a matter of trivia in comparison to the overall effect SPLIT IN TWO imposes on its listener.
It’s immediately apparent that KATIE’$ MONEY displays a maturity and musical savvy uncommon among first albums. Whether they’re reconstructing familiar pop signatures in HUFFING GASOLINE or SOMETIMES THE SINNERS or kicking things up a notch with the infectious guitar driven YOUR JUST ONE MORE THING THAT I HAVE TO LOSE or the Rolling Stones-esque RUBY HEART STEALER, KATIE$ MONEY never fails in delivering on its promise with persuasive vocals and infectious melodies.
Of equal measure to their sure-handed musicianship is a sharp wit providing an unmistakable snappiness to songs like ESKIMO DOG WALKER and LIPSTICK FADES. The latter of which somehow managing to simultaneously both tease and empathize with a boy, his shameful secret and the possibility of being found out. Their lyrics, too, contribute additional dimension and depth, effectively combining observation and surreal composition to staggering effect. See, for example, the album’s namesake SPLIT IN TWO: “Out of your clown car mouth/ Screams verbal suicide/ Just hug yourself tonight/ And stop asking why.”
Yet for all their proficiency and innovation it’s the wistfulness and playful nostalgia permeating the album that provides it with its greatest resonance. The album, in fact, thematically and otherwise, spends a good deal of its time navigating the divide between the playful and the sincere, the complex and the simple. That it does so employing upbeat melodies and seductive harmonies renders it all the more potent. SOFTBALL SISTER’s emotional release, for example, sneaks up on you despite (or, maybe, because of) the rhythmic percussive claps and the catchy melody that carries us through its otherwise melancholic and touching tale. Or take the initial menace of PAYBACK that ends up taking a back seat to something far sweeter, something almost innocent.
Not merely a welcome introduction to a powerful and dynamic new band, SPLIT IN TWO reminds us that the best music is rarely about things falling apart but of things coming together; of unlikely influences complementing one another; of talent, musicianship and voice opening up, blooming, ready and willing to share the wealth of its creation. It seems more than a little appropriate then that ANDY HOPPER and MATTHEW GUNN PARK have opened their musical wallets offering us a little taste of KATIE’$ MONEY. It’s an offer almost too good to be true.