Sub Pop / Kiwi Club (label)
12 August 2022 (released)
12 August 2022
If there’s a poppier, peppier, preppier Summer hum-along-a-sing-song this year than ‘Unspeakable Things’ then I’ll … well, you’ll never know as it doesn’t or can’t exist. It’ll still be swirling through your mem-brains by Christmas.*
The opening track on Canadian quartet Kiwi Jr.’s new (and third) long-player ‘Chopper’ is such an upbeat earworm (with a glorious synth-melody) it belies the song’s message, that of the tech-induced appetite for prying, a salacious desire to ‘know’ the warts ‘n all about anybody, somebody, everybody’s ‘dirty laundry’ aired and expected to reveal some hidden information for nefarious or pecuniary gains.
Inspired (if that’s the correct term …) by frontman Jeremy Gaudet’s experience of schmuck-rakers trying to access his email account, this unsavoury undercurrent of human-unkind’s dis-engagement with Culture 2.0 is expertly illustrated in the accompanying video by Morgan Waters, a ‘Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ meets Friday 13th ’ thrill-kill caper.
Both ‘Night Vision’ and ‘The extra sees the film’ ooze the snooze-wooze of what’s now (hazily … lazily …) categorised as ‘dream-pop’: the latter is a tale of the (im)perils of fame-seeking, the kickback of the visage slipping … and exhibiting the true self; ‘Contract Killers’ projects a cinematic, enigmatic effervescence, a widescreen technicolour dream coated in a grim, lairy tale.
On ‘Chopper’ the foursome (Gaudet, Mike Walker (bass), Brohan Moore (drums), and Brian Murphy (guitar)) have produced a manifesto that restates long held aims and objectives, (you ‘never’ change a winning team … entirely) with their strand of flood-lit-crit cerebralist jangle-pop delicately submerged beneath synthesised-soundscapes. Less college rock, more collage pop.
Gaudet’s Sprechgesang itself is an affectionate (and refreshing) reminder of when North American drawl-twang seemed exotic, a ‘foreign’ accent that hinted at mystery, otherness and difference, at odds with today’s global village idiot-idioms of blandisms and reality-TVD mimicry. *rubs wistful eyes and ears*
Kiwi Jr. occupy that popsy-turvy world where Ash-meet-the-Feelies, or Jonathan Richman guests with any number of Flying Nun artistes. Droll, deadpan, heartfelt observations married to glorious happy-sad arrangements. Pulp-diction, if you like.
Odds on you’ve still got that melody in your head …
• The last one to do so for me was Scissors for Lefty’s ‘Marsha’ way back in 2006