Keeping it at under 30 minutes, Toronto based Kiwi Jr have somehow managed to fill their concise debut Football Money with a long list of influential checkpoints, humour aplenty and stacks of melodic joy. Well schooled in the ways of jangly guitar (think R.E.M., The Byrds) and a slacker-pop, throwaway vocal delivery courtesy of Jeremy Gaudet, the quartet featuring Alvvays’ Brian Murphy have crafted a compelling, if short, collection of 10 songs.
It seems to be a trait often shown by Canadian musicians to pop up in more than just a single band, but this ability to spread themselves in many directions should be like a big, pointy, flashing neon sign illuminating just how much talent is burgeoning in a country that’s long been in the musical shadow of its southerly neighbours as well as the UK. Murphy’s presence in this instance, though, may serve best as a helping hand and magnet to a bigger audience.
When opener Murder In The Cathedral kicks off the album, the upbeat, joyous melodies and down to earth nonchalant vocals appear immediately to give an instant fix and indication of what the band’s all about. And the sugar pop melodies continue, firstly through Leslie and then for the Byrdsian jangle of Salary Man where kitchen sink lyrics combine with finger picked melodies, drawing comparisons with Parquet Courts and Hooton Tennis Club as well as their more illustrious forerunners Pavement.
In charge of production is Holy Fuck’s keyboardist Graham Walsh, which is somewhat surprising considering the lack of effects, for rather than be coated in synths and glitz which might be expected, this is undoubtedly a guitar album. The Strokes-y Gimme More hammers this home whilst namechecking Burt Bacharach before sounding like it’s turning into Elton John’s Crocodile Rock and the title track does the same through some more manic guitaring.
Jangling its way towards its finale via other notable Byrds’ moments such as the slower yet sublime Comeback Baby, the album saves its best for last. Firstly the excellent Swimming Pool mentions – maybe distastefully – Brian Jones, but it’s a gem of a cut that recalls the more melodious moments from the late 1960s as Gaudet sings, “Should I be here at my age in your swimming pool, Brian Jones”. Wicked Witches then completes the collection with a riff that screams Lou Reed – Vicious, perhaps, was the inspiration – for another belter.
Right up until its final moments, Football Money continues to please and over the course of just 28 minutes, maybe that’s vital. First plays, though, could be key; despite its attractions, they’re not so much in your face as covered in a light dust that needs to be swept away before they can be enjoyed. Much like some of their aforementioned peers, you might wonder what all the fuss is about, but it shouldn’t take too long before you see that there’s a lot to like.