Kissy Sell Out has earned his reputation thus far largely as a remixer, and latterly as a Radio 1 DJ. For the former, his list of credits read like the start of a Who’s Who of electronic music. But now, his ground work done, he steps up to the plate with a first long player to fully define his sound.
Kissy, real name Thomas Bisdee, keeps a strong affinity with his Essex roots, which is a sound approach to take as he’s only just up the Great Eastern line from Underworld and The Prodigy‘s Liam Howlett. Given those near neighbours, he has a lot to live up to.
And live up to it he largely does, with a series of adrenalin surges that might not be as hard hitting as anything approaching Born Slippy or Firestarter, but use a heady grasp of electro sounds, rhythms and intricate synth writing to make their mark.
Through The Leaves is a particularly effective illustration, an explosion of joyfully complex melodies you might expect from a Canadian folk-rock band rather than a bedroom producer from Colchester.
Yet that is the main point of Kissy’s appeal, that he does electronics but does them in a style that proves difficult to pin down until, frankly, it’s best to give up altogether. There’s no doubt the frantic hurry of a tune like Apple Jelly owes a lot in its rhythm to the sound of DFA, but the ensuing piano and melody could only come from the UK.
Vocalist Danimal Kingdom contributes a good deal to this primal energy, and gets away with vocals that occasionally sound contrived, due to a strong personality that makes its mark. He’s helped by a series of wicked bass sounds, particularly on This Kiss, or a web of well constructed rhythms, the breaks references on Go Explode standing up well. “Go, explode, and ruin it forever!” he sings, inciting outright hedonism.
Elsewhere, Bubs N Bizzle is a curious tune, staying just the right side of novelty in its marriage of a folksy tune and a dirty bass, while the inclusion of the well-loved instrumental Harriet towards the end is a good move, a hyper-tense collision of elaborate melody lines and breakbeats that finally break out into a full on dancefloor assault.
A debut of strength in depth, then, full of energy, with occasional bursts of punky attitude or unexpected tenderness. Kissy’s one to keep an eye on, as his early mastery of the synthesizer could well mean there’s a classic album in him before too long.