Erupting from the Americana stronghold of, er, Bath, Kill It Kid are nothing if not an intriguing proposition: four fresh-faced fellas and a gal whose tastes and influences reach back into the 1800s. That’s not something you can say about Klaxons.
And instead of the contrived mish-mash threatened by such a heady mix of pop-neglected stimuli – from blues to jive, bluegrass to ragtime – Kill It Kid have, on this freshman effort, managed to reign in and manipulate this musical heritage with the nous of veterans.
Their agenda is made clear from the off: Heaven Never Seemed So Close rampages from stomps, claps and a demented blues riff into a breathless refrain augmented with buckets of overdrive and a shrieking violin lick. It’s a formula that rarely fails to grip one’s attention in a vice-like grip, and one that serves them well throughout.
Current single Burst Its Banks follows, its loud-quiet-loud manifesto sure to draw comparisons with Arcade Fire or an angrier, less overtly British Bellowhead. It is, moreover, the album’s greatest exposition of Chris Turpin’s ludicrously idiosyncratic register.
Kill It Kid, you see, sound as if they’re fronted by a weathered Deep South 50-something with a chip on his shoulder; straddling ground somewhere between Anthony Hegarty and an irate Guy Garvey, his performances on tracks like Ivy And Oak put concerns about the authenticity of Bath-based Americana well and truly to bed.
The LP is also able to boast a number of terrifically stimulating duets between Turpin and pianist Stephanie Ward, and never better than on Fool For Loving You, its masterfully melodramatic theatre alone worth the price of admission.
Other album highlights include My Lips Won’t Be Kept Clean, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Johnny Cash/June Carter-Cash compilation, and Troubles Of Loretta, a foot-to-the-floor ballad in which the protagonist is, “Staring down the barrel of a hand-me-down beretta.”
In the album’s closing stages, Dirty Water gravitates between quiet, maudlin verse and amped up, emphatic chorus – a trick Kill It Kid threaten to take to new, uncharted territory – whilst Bye Bye Bird’s folk harmonies evoke the thick layers of regret of a gold rush-era Klondike dancehall.
Their tour de force – Taste The Rain – is saved for last, its expert crescendo and sparing construction emphasising the band’s propensity for beauty, drawing a line under the effort as a whole whilst reminding that all that went before was by no means a hotch-potch of styles and disparate volume levels, but rather a coherent, gripping and exhilarating stay in the world of Kill It Kid.
This is an accomplished album that charms, excites and captivates in equal measure. As unconventional as it needs to be and of far greater depth than perhaps even the band themselves expected, it’s a collection of tracks that seem to purport to be essential listening, and may well be telling the truth. An astounding debut and, just maybe, one of the albums of the year.