Album Review: The Kissaway Trail – Breach

By on Wednesday, 28th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

The Kissaway Trail Breach cover2010 saw the release of The Kissaway Trail’s album ‘Sleep Mountain’ on Bella Union, the Danish band’s first release in the UK and further afield from Scandinavia. They wowed new fans with the hard-hitting, yet still dreamy single ‘SDP’. In 3 years’ time, they’ve undergone some growing pains: at the time of the release of ‘Sleep Mountain’ and when I caught them live at Roskilde that year, they were a five-piece, but they’ve since dwindled down to a trio.

Despite having less members, the sound of the Kissaway Trail is in no way diminished in their new album, their third in their music life, out now. ‘Breach’ is an interesting album title, as it conjures up for me a gaping wide chasm in which this band down to three members had to choose between giving up their dream or running and leaping to grab on with both hands the edge of the cliff. By releasing this album, we know the choice they made, and overall, the results are good. Just don’t expect to be wowed by the words, because half the time you can’t make them out.

The dream pop template of the band isn’t tinkered too much with when it comes to the vocals. So for me, it’s the moments of loud, banging guitar that provide the most interest. See the name-checking title of ‘The Springsteen Implosion’, which, if you were wondering, doesn’t sound like any of the Boss’ back catalogue. This is the kind of song you know would be amazing to experience live. Imagine all the hipsters in their skinny jeans and plaid bopping their heads to this. The cheekily titled ‘Sarah Jevo’, with the fullness of its guitars, is another wonder to behold.

So it’s with some surprise that a song like ‘Cuts of Youth (Razor Love)’, with its buzzy synths and its carefree repeated refrain of “nothing else matters / to me”, comes along. (Stream it below.) It’s as if Wayne Coyne himself wrote this, waving his massive laser hands. (A similar sweet relationship sentiment of “in time, I’d do it all for you” appears on ‘Beauty Still Rebels’, just in less engaging song form.) Later on in ‘Breach’, ‘The Sinking’ comes along as a fun, rollicking track that will get hipsters’ feet tapping in no time.

But then there are sleepier, less poppy moments on ‘Breach’ that do anything but excite. ‘Nørrebro’, a district of Copenhagen that I’ve had the pleasure to visit, is immortalised in a Kissaway Trail song here, but in comparison to the aforementioned rockier songs, it comes across as less stirring. (Watch the video at the end of this review.) Opening track ‘Telly the Truth’ doesn’t really get going until nearly a minute and a half in, which is a bit of a shame because the guitar notes without any lyrical accompaniment are admirable and the best part of the song.

And then there is the matter of the echoey attempts at ethereal vocals peppered through ‘Breach’. Perhaps it is cynicism on my part about wanting to hear lyrics clearly and enunciated, but on a song like ‘So Sorry, I’m Not’, which sounds like the band is singing down megaphones and then someone went into the studio and faffed with the sound files further, becomes overwrought and overworked. The vocals on ‘Shaking the Mote’ sound merely incidental, drowned out by the admittedly grand and at times gorgeous instrumentation.

Like their former tourmates the Temper Trap‘s debut album ‘Conditions’, ‘Breach’ from the Kissaway Trail is the kind of album that probably works better as a live experience. Hope I get the chance to test this theory later this year. Fingers crossed.

7.5/10

The Kissaway Trail’s new album ‘Breach’ is out now on Yep Roc. Watch the video for ‘Nørrebro’ below.

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