ALBUM REVIEW: Kid Sister – “Ultraviolet”

I guess it’s true to say they saved the best for last. In a year on the alternative underground dominated by a cadre of fresh faced club divas, likely the best of the lot, Chicago’s Kid Sister, has dropped her standout debut release, Ultraviolet. It is more a testament to her career so far than album release. A solid number of these tracks have already been hits on dance floors worldwide. In taking the financial gamble of not releasing an album until completely ready, Kid Sister’s music is field tested and absolutely dance floor approved. Plus, with cameos from Kanye West and yes, making another dance vocal appearance after the success of David Guetta’s big single “One Love,” Estelle, and promoting Chicago’s unique synth heavy juke style and dance music history, there’s definitely something excellent here for everyone.

Ultraviolet succeeds for a massive number of reasons. Foremost, the album was pushed back an absurd number of times, while angering to the consumer, it allowed for the album to be as perfect as it could be as an exposition of the talents of the artist. Where say, Amanda Blank’s album falls a bit short in fleshing her out completely as a talent, this album succeeds. In just over 37 minutes and 12 tracks long, there’s a quality in the economy here from tracks one to twelve that just isn’t on any other album in the alternative/underground/hipster dance scene all year. Executive produced by A-Trak, the album leans toward hip hop and R & B considerably, as the tracks are certainly dance floor bangers, but between the spunky soul of Kid Sister’s voice and A-Trak’s work here, the album does have tremendous crossover appeal.

Current single “Right Hand Hi” produced by the Swedish House Mafia crew of Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, and features an insistent synth and some barely there dubbed basslines, fading into some techno production work. The song is a high energy blast that is a guaranteed dance floor killer. As well, the familiar tracks on here, the buzzworthy dubstep of the 2008 Rusko produced single “Pro Nails” with Kanye West, DJ Gant-Man’s hyperkinetic juke production of “Switch Board,” and the dubstep pop of “Control” all succeed here, as in having them on the album, it provides the seasoned Kid Sister fan with a “greatest hits” feel, but for a new listener, these productions absolutely fit the record.

The album’s true winner may be the cover of Status IV’s 1982 Chicago house classic “You Ain’t Really Down.” Yes, the track whose opening synths were sampled for Stetsasonic’s “Talkin’ All That Jazz” is covered here, and we get the true heart of Kid Sister as an artist. She’s an avowed fan of music, and fully aware that as a Chicago based dance diva, there are certain homages that must be paid. Recently, she has recorded with Green Velvet (aka Cajmere of “Percolator” fame), another legendary Chicago based dance artist, which shows that her respect and knowledge of her musical heritage is certainly anything but prefabricated. The production for “You Ain’t Really Down” takes the track from it’s Chicago roots and takes it to the Nuyorican soul of the freestyle movement, which takes nothing from the song, and it breathes life into the song for an entirely new generation.

As a rapper, Kid Sister is adequate, light, funky and totally buoyed by the tracks she’s backed with. As a fan of music who gets to record music that reflects something clearly very intrinsically tied into her soul as a person moreso than an artist is where she succeeds. Her interpretations of classic 80s house open a window to her soul, and loose an artist that has a direction that truly separates her from being “just another hipster artist.” Whereas the Amanda Blanks and Uffies of the world reside in a world of cheese and camp, Kid Sister, pro nails and all, absolutely the real deal.