Kyte, since their inception, have been a band forever bursting with promise. From their breathtaking early gigs via the self-titled EP of couple of years ago and onto the stunning cover of Peter Gabriel‘s Solsbury Hill, they’ve constantly progressed.
But new album Dead Waves finds them in much the same place we left them back in 2008 when they released the Two Sparks, Two Stars EP. They are still intent on making vast sweeping songs that are awash with emotion and electronic trickery. They’re still capable of reducing grown men to tears (possibly). And yes, there are still moments where they sound a little like Sigur R�s.
Over the last couple of years the band have tightened up their production and drum samples, but The Smoke Saves Lives, which opens the album, sounds weirdly familiar; not unlike the first track of the Kyte EP, Planet. Splendid though it is, the similarity between these songs is worrying. Have Kyte blown their creative muse?
As it turns out, they haven’t. There’s still enough on the album to keep the newcomer entertained, and plenty of new ideas for the long term fan to indulge in. The Smoke Saves Lives, whilst familiar, is still a phenomenal opening blast. Epic in every way, it suggests Kyte have really aimed at vast and admirably succeeded. Massive keyboard chords hang heavy in the air and swirl around the ridiculously tender voice of Nick Moon. Despite being great at establishing contemplative moods, Kyte always seem to aim for the sky, as they do here, with the chorus positively soaring.
IhnFsa has a slightly ’80s feel to it and an intro that takes a stoll on the oriental side. Moon however is busy getting surly with West End Girls as his vocals take on a distinctly Neil Tennant bent. It’s a definite step away from the more post-rock influence of early Kyte material with a structure that adheres to a more conventional verse/chorus format; almost as if they’ve written a proper pop song. You’re Alone Tonight continues in this pop-tinged vein, with Moon keeping up his Pet Shop Boys schtick, with a breathily sultry vocal delivery. An incessant 8-bit keyboard part completes a strangely romantic track.
Elsewhere Kyte are just as heartbreakingly desolate as before. The barren No-one Is Angry, Just Afraid is a minimal masterpiece full of space. Whispers of “fighting to stay alive” make for a bleak canvas which Kyte then colour gradually with waves of synths and understated guitars. It’s one of the band’s most beautiful songs.
There are many of these moments on Dead Waves, and they make this an album of considerable merit. Once again Kyte have proved they’re worth checking out, even if over the course of a full album they’d do well to try mixing things up a little. Even the most beautiful vistas get boring if you gaze at them all the time.