Peach Kelli Pop Takes A 'Hello Kitty Knife' To Sad, Old Critics Of Girlhood : All Songs Considered Los Angeles sparkle punks Peach Kelli Pop depart from their traditional surf-pop sound in favor of the rainbow-filled aesthetics of childhood.
NPR logo Peach Kelli Pop Takes A 'Hello Kitty Knife' To Sad, Old Critics Of Girlhood

Peach Kelli Pop Takes A 'Hello Kitty Knife' To Sad, Old Critics Of Girlhood

Gentle Leader is Peach Kelli Pop's fourth album, co-produced by Allie Hanlon with engineer Roland Cosio. Gina Negrini/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Gina Negrini/Courtesy of the artist

Gentle Leader is Peach Kelli Pop's fourth album, co-produced by Allie Hanlon with engineer Roland Cosio.

Gina Negrini/Courtesy of the artist

It would be easy to call Peach Kelli Pop's bright and frenetic music bubblegum or twee, but it would also be wrong. To refer to a song like "Hello Kitty Knife" this way removes the agency and intention that makes it so earnest. The first single off the band's upcoming fourth album Gentle Leader is at once a more maturely written song than previous work and a return to childhood.

Growing up in Ottawa, primary songwriter Allie Hanlon was obsessed with '80s California punk, playing in garage bands and burning mix CDs of Los Angeles bands like Germs, Redd Kross, and The Go-Go's. Peach Kelli Pop also takes a cue from chiptune and Japanese punk a la Shonen Knife and Otoboke Beaver (not to mention the Sailor Moon theme song). The resulting song has the sweet menace of the stuffed-baby-chick-with-a-knife meme that packs a Gun Club bite.

Peach Kelli Pop, Gentle Leader Miza Coplin/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Miza Coplin/Courtesy of the artist

The album cover for Gentle Leader looks like one of those velvet paint-by-numbers kits from a craft store, featuring a young woman who might be too old for the rainbows, hearts, sparkles and stuffed animals that surround her. It's exactly what "Hello Kitty Knife" would look like in watercolor, idealizing the aesthetics of girlhood in still life.

Young women identify their earliest art as sacrosanct, and words like "bubblegum" belittle that fixation. Lyrics like "Baby blue black eye, lookin' up at the sky / Pink and extra crispy, red and yellow Yoshi," are a blue-tongued sugar rush impossible to follow but no less inviting. Maybe the song has too much fun for its own good, moving from The X-Files to brain freezes before those references can land. Whatever, old man: "It's my best life! Hello Kitty knife!"


Gentle Leader is out May 25 via Mint Records.