EP Review: Kiirstin Marilyn – Kristoffer

Kiirstin Marilyn is a New York, USA-based alternative pop singer songwriter who has just come to my attention thanks to her deeply personal new EP. Telling the story of her eldest brother, whom she tragically lost in 2021, it’s called Kristoffer.

By Graeme Smith

Kristoffer takes us through the gamut of emotions associated with grief but is ultimately a heart-warming tribute to Kiirstin’s late brother, told expertly through her unique combination of autobiographical detail and knack for storytelling.

It all starts with Beyond the Bad. It’s a dramatic opening, with a classical undercurrent and soaring, mourning strings. Kiirstin’s vocals are the shining star, expressively delivering intimate and captivating lyrical detail. It’s a powerful intro.

Real Life takes things in a dark rock direction, with big, heavy guitars and passionate vocals. It feels like an outpouring of sadness, tinged with anger. A cathartic chorus is a highlight. Twenty-Five is a gentler number, but its emotional impact is no less. Kiirstin captures her brother’s struggles in devastating detail. Train Tracks has a suitably driving rhythm and there’s a lushness to its composition that makes it another highlight.

To Forgive gives us a brooding moment, with stripped-back instrumentals and layers of synth. It gives plenty of space to the biting details of the lyrics, delivered with melancholy by Kiirstin, who is joined by Adam Tilzer in the chorus. Older closes things on a brighter note. It’s led by strummed strings and the vocals are light and lilting. It’s a beautifully contrasting conclusion, and ties up the collection and the story of Kiirstin’s brother nicely.

This EP is a story that only Kiirstin could have told, and she does so incredibly, and with plenty of thought for her audience. This isn’t a collection that’s lost in self-pity, but rather a well-articulated tribute to someone who has had a huge impact in her life. I’m so glad that she has released it, and that it’s put her music on my radar.

Kristoffer was produced by Adam Tilzer and is out now via Unuka Records. You can give it a listen below.