Refreshing facts about Kittie: None of them were Mousketeers, they don't dance down the halls of their high school half-naked, and they're not about to buy into the American dream of record sales through plastic surgery.

"I'm not up there singing, 'Hit me baby, one more time!' We're a lot more mature than that," states frontwoman Morgan. Instead, the Canadian teen quartet presents its music with the same brutal truth that clouds their reality. Sonically, it's harsh. But so is the world they live in, and Kittie don't see a need for sugarcoating.

"If people are expecting The Spice Girls, they're not going to get it...People need to get used to everyday occurrence, that way they don't go and kill themselves-or other people-over things like losing a boyfriend or girlfriend," adds drummer Mercedes, Morgan's sister, and half of the band's bludgeoning bottom end with bassist Talena. Accompanying Morgan on guitar is Fallon, and though the four girls are still toiling through high school, they have a better grasp on their environment than most adults.

"Being the way people are, they'll look at songs like 'Spit,' 'Suck,' and 'Choke' and perceive them to be about promiscuity and guys, but you have to dig deeper than that and actually look into the lyrics to see where we're coming from," details Morgan. "Like the song 'Do You Think I'm a Whore?'-That's about the way that I perceive myself and the way other people tend to perceive me. There are times that I really don't think that people get what we're doing and understand where we're coming from. We're girls, playing in a guys business..."

"We're intense, and a lot of people just don't expect it," continues Mercedes. "That's why 'Spit' is my favorite song in the world-People expect us to suck, then we get on stage and blow them away. One minute they're just standing there, then their mouths drop open and their dicks feel small."

"All those people who judge us without hearing us? That's enough to make me spit," says Morgan of the song's title, pleased that Kittie have the chance to prove cynics wrong.

"A lot of guys don't want a bunch of little girls to get in the way of their music," laughs Fallon, who penned "Choke" as an emotional response to betrayal. "That song's about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say 'screw you.'" Musically, "Choke" constricts as tightly as its subject matter, pounding from death metal brutality into a down tuned stomp that bites of sarcasm and smacks with scorn. "Brackish" opts for a more frantic pace, a techno backbeat and riveting guitars playing backdrop to a spoken word delivery that unravels into passionate vocal blasts.

It's that passion that sets Kittie apart from their more seasoned peers. Combining insights that are untempered by conventional political correctness, a blunt delivery, and lyrics that delve deeper than their titles might suggest, Kittie transcend the commercial ease of disposable teen angst and easily-packageable pop melodies.

Take "Paperdoll"-One of the album's least suggestive titles, the track offers one of the band's most palatable messages. Says Morgan, "We want to destroy the idea that a lot of men see women as blowup dolls. We want to break that, because we're better than that."

Not bad for a band that was conceived when Mercedes and Fallon met in a gymnastics class and began playing Nirvana and Silverchair covers with Morgan. Since then, Mercedes says she's grown "about seven inches," Fallon no longer aspires to be the next Mariah Carey-"I found cool music," she says-and they've graduated from the youthful mentality of, "Wow, let's play together!" to refining an image of their own and turning heads with a look inspired by equal parts glam, goth and metal.

"We just got sick of looking like everybody else-We didn't want to look grubby, and we didn't want to conform. We wanted to do something special," says Fallon. The results, according to Morgan, fall somewhere within the realm of "glam-goth, metal-glitter. We strive to do our own thing and be the pavers of new roads. It's all just completely natural, we don't really try to sound like anything, it just happens... This is just what's normal for us."

And for that, we have to be thankful. Imagine a world where Britney Spears was the norm?

"Hey, we didn't say anything bad about her!" clarifies Mercedes-"We didn't slag her, and we respect her... We just don't want to be her!" Morgan agrees: "Comparing us to her is like comparing black to white... We'll just stick to the metal!"

-Paul Gargano 10/99