In The Post #58: The Kissaway Trail – Sleep Mountain

By on Tuesday, 30th March 2010 at 12:00 pm

You know that surge of excitement you get when an album opener explodes inside your ears? Good news, “SDP”, the first track off The Kissaway Trail‘s latest album does just that and then some. Bad news, it’s the only one off the LP to put out such an electric bolt of sound. That’s not the say the remainder of songs aren’t good. Rather, it seems the band put so much effort and energy in the six-minute song that the remaining tracks seem a bit deflated compared to the soaring, first single off their “Sleep Mountain” album.

Upon releasing their eponymous album three years ago, the Danish quintet donned the crown of being a poor man’s Arcade Fire. Let’s just say that they have yet to be dethroned. Still, for all the clashing of bells, stretching of accordion limbs and thumping of sonically-infused rhythms, something clearly seems off. Could it be the band is trying too hard to be just like Canada’s kings of baroque pop instead of just creating their own individual sound?

Whatever the case, it’s obvious to spot the above mentioned influence with a song like “Don’t Wake Up”, a powerful tune complete with infectious drum loops, swirling, ambient sounds and the frantic, yet subtle whisperings of lead vocalist Thomas Fagerlund. If Arcade Fire should ever need an alternate or revised version of “Wake Up”, this one ought to do it.

Despite the slight unoriginality in their songwriting ability (“Painter” initially comes to mind), the collision of familiar sounds is refreshing to hear in such tracks as in “New Year” where we hear an emotive, piano driven melody backed up alongside a just as impressive showing of drum chop skills. “Friendly Fire” and “New Lipstick”, meanwhile, both musically and lyrically seem to be reminiscent of fellow Scandinavian outfit Shout Out Louds.

Then, somewhere in the middle of the album Philadelphia comes in. A fragile, string-laden tune where Fagerlund’s vocal abilities glow at their finest. The only problem, however, is that it’s a freaking Neil Young song. Again, no shame in that, other than the fact the band should have used it as a b-side or in the very least a hidden track – if such things even exist anymore. I’ve always been under the impression that a full LP such as this should include a band’s work only. But that’s a futile debate for another time, and The Kissaway Trail seem to think otherwise anyway.

While album closer “Three Million Hours” isn’t as magnificently rousing as the band’s opening track, it’s certainly worthy of grandeur. Layered instrumentation and acoustic plucks gallop earnestly along until its roped into the lyrical and musical corral of yet another North American band, Modest Mouse.

As much as “Sleep Mountain” has to offer, a creative element seems to be lagging. It’s easy to see that The Kissaway Trail has a great depth of potential here, but unfortunately, their delivery just falls short. Let’s hope the band nails it with their next album, because they show capabilities of individual greatness.

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