First Release from Nathan Hewitt Solo Project Since 2018 Once Again Delivers Introspection and Throwing One’s Voice Out Into The Universe
In the late 2010s former guitarist and singer of international neo-shoegaze 4-piece Cheatahs began a solo project called Hypnotic Kingdom releasing a debut full length album in 2018, Would You Be There For Me?
The debut was an excellent construction, blending some elements of Cheatahs lo-fi sound with a more stripped down and lyrical approach to songwriting. There’s a good interview from a few years ago on Youtube you can watch discussing that first album and inspiration.
It’s spiritual sequel is the 5-track EP just released now, 3 years later, late 2021’s Little Shadow. The inspiration for this EP and Hewitt’s return from hiatus has been described by the artist as a “lyrical journey that links childhood and parenthood with Hewitt’s role as a new parent bringing back memories of his own father passing away when he was young.”
#1 – “Little Shadow”
The intro track is a simple acoustic guitar song, clearly opening up the theme of the album as a message from parent to child. “I just want you to be confident…I just want to freeze your innocence” and the refrain “You’re everything I’m not enough of” evokes the bliss of innocence of parenting a young child every new parent understands and experiences.
#2 – “My Baby Keeps Breaking My Heart”
The single release off this EP, is another fairly upbeat guitar-driven melody, and a good fulcrum for the overall theme and positioning of the tracks. That being said, it’s a good song, but probably my least favorite off the EP.
#3 – “As Long As We’re Living”
This song is the one that sounds the most like the Would You Be There For Me? album. Guitar hook, clean lo-fi feedback and harmonized vocals layered on top of each other. Probably the most interesting and mysterious song lyrically also.
#4 – “Last Bottle”
There’s definitely always been some subtle Elliot Smith influences in Hypnotic Kingdom’s songs, this song is probably the most Smith-ian song he’s written. The vocals almost sound like Smith, and although the melody of this song isn’t super depressing sounding, the “drink to the last bottle” refrain pretty tells you what this song is more or less about. I really enjoy it.
#5 – “Sounded Like Something”
The last song on the EP, I think, has the best lyrics of the group, and provides the most visceral feel to me as a listener “you said it was nothing, but it sounded like something, tell me what I don’t want to know” is a clear and identifiable feeling that’s pretty universal.
Overall, the EP is another very solid work of output from Hypnotic Kingdom, and even if it sucked, I’d still be glad to see more music from this artist. The good news is it’s very good. Hewitt has a unique artistic voice worth sharing with the world and it should garner attention of fans and critics alike. I certainly want to see more to come.