After their most successful year to date in 2006, having released superb new albums from Howling Bells, Midlake and Fionn Regan, Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label begins 2007 as it means to go on – with more new signings. The first of these is Danish six-piece The Kissaway Trail, in London town tonight just a couple of weeks after their record deal was announced.
Tucked into a bill headlined by Aereogramme, the band took to the stage before an audience almost none of whom had ever heard them or their music – their debut self-titled album is not out till April. Nonetheless, a new Bella Union signing these days is reason enough for live music fans to put their faith in seeing a halfway decent band do their stuff. And while the Danes didn’t fell the place with wonderment, they did enough to suggest Raymonde’s ear for something original is working as well as ever.
Stylistically the band are a mash-up. There are three electric guitars slung around the necks of three vocalists, Thomas Fagerlund, Sren Corneliussen and Daniel Skjoldmose. The tallest of these, whom we assume to be Thomas, sports a dandy looking pink cravat and hair that suggests styling is something he cares about. To either side of him, his two shorter accomplices are in t-shirts and by comparison look somewhat skanky.
No matter though when their guitars get going. Their sonorous, unhurried approach to creating musical mood is reminiscent strongly of Sigur Rs, though the vocals are in English. There are hints at post- and prog-rock, for those keen on pigeonholing, but neither adequately describes The Kissaway Trail’s work.
One of the smaller guitarists by mid-set looked as though his entire body was being screwed up into ball as he let his passion for music show, to occasionally amusing effect. The cravat wearer was the very picture of cool by comparison, though he said next to nothing to the audience throughout the short set. Interaction, boys. We want to hear you speak and acknowledge we’re in front of you.
Drummer Hasse Mydtskov, head wedged into headphones to stage right, is possibly the best indie sticks man I’ve seen live since witnessing Sigur Rs. Shifting patterns of drumming even in mid-bar time and again, his work helps give the band a sound all of their own.
Later, during Aereogramme’s self-important and interminable noodling, my thoughts were still on The Kissaway Trail. It’s possible they’ll be another of those Bella Union bands that sneak up from nowhere and become, by the end of the year, critical darlings. You wouldn’t bet money against it anyway.