Producer Max Kate is making his presence felt this year, release after release. His singles Lady of Stars and Weekend had proven his artistic prowess and diversity in sound. And now, the 19-year-old has finally dropped an EP, a three-track-record titled October.
Before we get into the specifics, one would wonder about the choice behind the name. October is a story of a couple falling for each other, recounting their days of carefree loving (and living) and how eventually they drift apart and ‘life happens’. October is when autumn is at its peak for some regions of the globe. Hence, Kate’s characters find each other in this introspective, somber phase, and eventually, their love grows warmer contrasting against the cold, wintry months that succeed October. But then, by February, when winter seems to end its stay, the bond also eventually breaks.
Thematically, the EP isn’t that unique as similar phases of metamorphosis in a relationship have been touched upon by many an artist in their respective EP/albums. However, each of the three songs does have the potential to stand apart as love ballads in their own right as they all brim with a sense of earnestness. For each track, Kate relies on the vocal talents of featured singer Xeede.
18, the opening chapter is an innocent ode dedicated to a summer of love. The singer seems to croon about memories of the past, back when their love wasn’t that mature, and their kisses were reminiscent of a whole new experience altogether. A simple pop acoustic buildup surrounds the song turning it into a bittersweet number. In fact, in some ways, it’s bound to remind the listener of a certain 2000s soft rock sound that many bands resorted to once (before almost every mainstream rock act started relying on an electronic sound). This certain nostalgic tinge, thanks to Kate’s keys and overall instrumentation, works in the song’s favour.
18 is followed by Last February. This chapter opens with a slightly merry strumming pattern along with chirpy sounds of nature. Even though sonically, this song is different from its predecessor, Xedee’s voice still carries a certain bittersweetness as lyrically he again remembers a trip that he had with his loved one ‘last February’. Soothing and upbeat in terms of production, Last February serves as the perfect middle chapter in the EP for the song that follows unleashes the melancholia that follows ‘the end’.
The acoustic fingerpicking in the track called Last Goodbye carries a sense of defeat and regret (that’s on;y further accelerated with a few violin notes as the song progresses). Xedee’s words similarly grow mellower as he wishes to have spent more time with the aforementioned muse. Last Goodbye is slightly longer than the previous two songs and its duration does make sense as right after the third minute, Xedee further expresses his gloom with some soulful vocal stretches that ultimately culminate into a soft-spoken ‘goodbye’.
And with that, the EP called October ends with a realistic sense of acceptance. Regrets and the ever-present desire of ‘turning back time’ are natural. Not having that perfect goodbye is also natural. All we can do is accept. And it’s this authentic sense of acceptance that Max Kate and his collaborator succeed at exploring.
The EP does hint towards a stormy affair between two people but in no way does it attempt to ‘over-dramatise’ this storm. Rather, October seems to be a testament to touch upon the calm before the storm…
Verdict: Max Kate gets at his introspective best, weaving a bittersweet tale of love and loss for his debut EP.