Kind of Like Spitting – You Secretly Want Me Dead

Kind of Like Spitting
You Secretly Want Me Dead

Kind of Like Spitting used to be the project of Ben Barnett, an Oregon native who did the whole singer/songwriter thing. He wrote terribly lovely songs that were soft and intimate yet quite beautiful and powerful at the same time. Somewhere down the line, Barnett added some other musicians, who apparently change per the release, and Kind of Like Spitting became a band. Yet it’s still Barnett’s heart and soul here. Now the sound is just filled out a little more. And, oh, it’s so good.
Kind of Like Spitting definitely fits into the whole soft and personal singer/songwriter thing, even with a full band. They bring to mind the work of bands like Ida and Low as well as musicians like Jeff London and Lullaby for the Working Class. These songs tend to heavily lean on Barnett’s vocals and acoustic guitar, which can be soft and sweet one moment and sad and lilting the next. In fact, most of these songs are sad, taking on a very personal and passionate feel. And Barnett has an amazing ability to convey emotion.
“Who Cares How Much” sounds like the KoLS of old. Here you get Ben playing his electric guitar, strumming in the background as he sings in his gentle, soft voice. Maybe it’s the guitar, but the song doesn’t feel folk, just stripped down and intimate. “Catch the Redeye Out of Girlfriend Land” reminds me a bit of a Low song, quiet but bringing in the bass and drums, and Barnett’s vocals are strained and full of feeling on this one. “Your Favorite Actor” is probably my favorite here. One moment it’s soft vocals and acoustic guitar, and then strings and more guitars come in, giving it a gorgeously melodic and lilting feel. “We Got as Far as Minnesota” has more of a folk-y feel to it, with acoustic guitar and Barnett singing about giving up everything. But then “Do You Need Him Here to Say” takes on more of a full-band feel, with a light, almost jazzy style and a great poppy structure. “Maybe We Should Get Married” is about as soft as the band gets, with some absolutely lovely melodic acoustic guitar. There’s a deep moodiness to “Motor Boat,” and here the guitar is mixed over the vocals instead of the other way around, giving this song a completely different feel. And it feels so sad when, at the ending, Barnett sings over and over, “Buildings still falling down.” After the jaunty, more rocking “Please Don’t Sweat the Afterlife,” “Slow Me Down” again slows things down, quiet and desperate sounding. “Something in the Air” has a more intense and pop/rock feel, driven by some great 70’s sounding guitar and a more powerful chorus. There’s something of a lo-fi, 4-track feel to the intensely personal and quite well-named “I’ve Realized that Things Aren’t Really Good or Bad, At Least It’s Better to Avoid Looking At it That Way.” And the closer, “Afraid of Crushes,” again shows Barnett at his most endearing, his vocals breaking and screaming by the ending, the guitar coming in sweet and precise, and the song having a slow, bare pop style.
You Secretly Want Me Dead is not the band’s most recent work, but it’s one of my favorites by the band. Lovely soft ballads are interspersed with tracks that are more of a full-band sound. And they’re all structured around the most heartwrenching vocals and lyrics, soft and lovely. This is wonderful stuff, and this band is quickly becoming one of my favorites.