Kite Party reside and make music in Philadelphia, PA. They’ve released some well-received EPs over the last half-dozen years, and seem to have done a lot of live performing too. Their debut full-length, Baseball Season, was self-released in 2011, then picked up by Animal Style Records and re-released in early 2012.
My initial reaction upon dropping the needle and hearing the first few minutes of opening track “Welcome to Miami” was that, overall, the record is much prettier and more shimmery and laden with overt pop sensibility than I had expected. Mayhap this has something to do with the fact that the promotional material sent along with the album claimed it was recommended listening for those who like Fugazi (which I do—quite a lot). It's a bold, yet confusing, comparison—I confess I failed to see the connection.
Kite Party have a real contemporary pop/rock sound; drumming is simple, but tasteful and smart. There are some catchy, repetitive, riff-y guitar lines. All the melodies (vocals included) stay within a fairly narrow range–nothing too wild and crazy going on here, although the music is somewhat comforting in its extremely consistent production and overall vibe. Nonetheless, most tracks present interesting song structures with more going on than the standard verse-chorus-bridge thing. There are some pretty little instrumental breakdowns and some nice contrasts (as when the bass drops out in “Spirit Gum”) that make space and create shifts in dynamics. For instance, the rhythm guitar playing is spare throughout the album. On tracks like “Arizona,” this creates space for the song to breathe, for the drums to be more of a driving force, for the keys to drone and float in all their reverb-y, church organ-esque glory. The track ends with a bit of foot-stompin’ country-rock flair, so there are a few surprises here.
This is yet another contemporary album on which the vocals are never “dry.” The vocalist isn’t the world’s greatest singer, which is fine, and maybe all that reverb helps to disguise this a little bit. Still, there are similar vocal melodies and phrasings throughout, which results in my brain tuning the vox out after a while. Without the helpfully enclosed lyrics sheet most of the actual words would be lost. I’m glad it was included, for though the lyrics seem more like navel-gazing than a presentation of ideas or truths a listener could identify with, they are thoughtful and create some interesting imagery. So the records chugs along dreamily, with the angular-counterpoint thing sitting alongside the expansive, anthemic thing, such as in the triumphant ending of “Buried in Dogs” or the chorus of wordless vocals and horns that wrap up the album itself.
I’m not sorry I listened to this – it was enjoyable, although if I hadn’t been reviewing it I’m not sure that I would have been compelled to listen all that closely. It sounds very much like Some Band in 2012, with an all-male lineup. I’m guessing some of them have ironic facial hair of some description. I’m also guessing they’re friends, and they enjoy making music together, and have been at it for a while and so deserve some successes and some fans and some nice-sounding recordings for posterity’s sake. I’m also guessing that they’re not exactly trying to re-invent the wheel here, and so this album can be appreciated for what it is: fun for a few listens right now, but not impactful enough to have any staying power.
5.0 / 10
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