Happy Holidays, Hipsters! I hope that your celebrations were safe, sound and as apathy-filled and devoid of genuine cheer as possible.
This year, the Ab-Dul household didn’t fully celebrate the holidays. We’ve moved official celebrations to January–ironically, of course. This means I still need a few last minute gifts. Perhaps you do, too. And what’s the perfect gift for that especially apathetic someone in your life? Kites.
It's a bird! It's a kite! No, it's indie baroque-pop-folk-rock darling Sufjan Stevens!
“Kites?!” you ask? Yes, Kites. “The delightfully colorful flying tethered aircrafts that depend on tension and lift caused by air flow over and under their wings creating high pressure below and low pressure above the wings?” you ask? No. Not those kites: Kinematic Kites.
“The branch of classical mechanics that describes the motion of kites without the consideration of the causes leading to the motion of kites?” you ask? No. Really, hipsters. Your questioning is insufferable. Kites is the latest offering from Australian indie pop quartet and Hipsters Don’t Lie favorites Kinematic–forty-eight minutes and fourteen seconds of indie pop perfection.
“What’s so great about that?” you ask? Honestly, I thought you were done with your inane questions, hipsters. But if you insist, I’ll tell you. In the fickle independent music scene, there are two major bones judgmental hipsters like ourselves love to pick with artists and bands. We complain when bands don’t change their sound; we say they’re stuck in a creative rut. We complain when bands do change their sound; we say they lack a cohesive aesthetic. (And let’s be clear here, by we I mean you, Pitchfork.) So here’s what I love about Kinematic: they know their sound–instead of changing it, they master it. So what if it’s pop music? It’s catchy. It’s infectious. It’s invigorating. It always sounds fresh. And it’s only getting better. Give it a listen before you write it off.
The opening of Kites is the lull before the storm. Building off the opening sonic drones, Mark Olszewski provides a sonic percussion landscape for Michael Owen’s Thom Yorke-esque vocals to float above. As “Already Here” fades, we are soon swept into a whirlwind of upbeat electric guitars in the aptly-titled “Whirlwind.” From there, it’s a mixed ride of energy-filled numbers with chugging electric guitars, like “Jefferson High,” “Peyote,” “Jika Jika” and “Mizuki,” softly sparkling intimate tracks, like “Pinpoints,” “Pretty, Ugly” and “Weak & Splendid,” and catchy but musically intricate pop songs, like “5 O’Clock High,” “The Punters Club,” “Beat Poetry,” and “Xrays & Traffic.” Less than an hour later, we disembark our pop journey with “Winter Son,” a somber piano-driven closer that echoes of the opening track–only darker, more natural, more poignant–and brings Kites full-circle.
Aside from great musical moments, my personal favorites of which have to be the rebellious spirit of “Beat Poetry” with a roaring guitar solo to match or the buoyant “Xrays & Traffic,” there are great lyrical moments on the album, which I think shows a maturation in the songwriting. The strongest moment for me comes on “Pinpoints” as Owen sings, “Unbeknown to me, embracing an effigy/Ring leader speaks, inducing a reverie/Poison my tea, burn my cigars/All falls to me, cover up all the stars/Now I batter this keyboard in frustration as I write/Pinpoints in the velvet, all I’m asking for is light.”
You can listen to the first six tracks of Kites, as well as many older tracks (which we discussed back in June 2008), at Kinematic‘s website under “Listen.” You can also find a mix of tracks at their official myspace page.
There’s something for everyone on Kites. Though it’s clearly hip to be jaded and apathetic, the genuine enthusiasm and energy Kinematic brings to each song makes even me want to sway minimally–as I did in the days before my freak Vespa accident–and smile (Just kidding, we all know hipsters are incapable of smiling). The best thing about Kinematic is not that they create pop songs, it’s that they unabashedly and masterfully craft pop songs.
Pitchfork be damned, I hope Kinematic never changes.
For more on Kinematic: http://www.kinematic.info/
Kites was released July 13th 2009 by Somersault Music and is now available for download on iTunes.