(Los Angeles) I have been listening to Kris Angelis’ new EP, Heartbreak is Contagious, over and over since I recently had her on my radio show; partly because I can’t stop and partly because every time I listen I hear something musically and emotionally new. As with all things Angelis, Heartbreak is Contagious is melodic, hypnotic, and dense with addictive emotion.
Three of songs on the EP explore the pain of love’s demise; the fourth is fun, funny, and foot-tapping but actually a cathartic part of the EP’s soulful narrative. Only Angelis could pull that off — perfectly blending pain and heartbreak with laughter and catharsis in the same EP.
Heartbreak is Contagious was written with and produced by Morgan Taylor Reid and Alexander Cardinale. The album follows her earlier The Left Atrium, in that it makes you feel what an emotionally defective heart feels like with stunning poetic lines like “I swear there was a time /when you belonged to me/But I’m a two-way heart/ On a one way street.” Even deeper than the writing are the concepts: taking a heart off life support in one song and a love as a home built by love but then turned into a solitary confinement prison when love dies in another.
The title concept is also deep, but, for an emotional EP, very logical. When a heart breaks, two hearts are damaged and they can’t love others, or as she sings, “Heartbreak is contagious, contagious/It’s not like we can talk it out/we’ve run out of words somehow.” Simply put, when you can’t really love anyone, including yourself, you often end up breaking someone else’s heart…your pain becomes contagious.
For me the most powerful song on the EP is “Life Support.” The song’s concept of a heart on life support is true to the corazón narrative, and the writing is as poignant and personal as anything Angelis has written, but the arrangement grips your heart and your ears. It begins with her gentle vocal fingers that slowly increase the pressure on your heart until she shocks it with electric paddles in full orchestration and an overdubbed voice drenched with urgency. And then she takes you off life support and lets you drift free, the pain ebbing back.
The last song, “Kevin Bacon” is almost from another world; perhaps a pop world. It is bright and snappy and loaded with hooks. As the drum machine taps out a dance beat she sings:
“There’s something, there’s something in the air, in the air
Running your fingers, your fingers through my hair, through my hair
and then we’re kissing lipstick is everywhere, everywhere”
Wow; I am dancing everywhere, everywhere.
This EP was a stretch for Angelis, not only in the addition of a hooky pop song, but in the collaborative writing process – not her usual M.O. She also wrote one of the songs in one day, also not her M.O. The result of this stretch is the best thing this winner of the B Female Album of 2013 by the LA Music Critics Awards has done to date and I suspect it will rack up more awards and add many, many new fans.
Kris Angelis. https://krisangelis.bandzoogle.com
Heartbreak is Contagious available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify