Monday, May 27, 2013

Album Review: Mount Kimbie - Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

Album Rating: B
Genres are flowers and Mount Kimbie is a bee buzzing between them on its quest for nectar. Mount Kimbie is both a bad and a good bee: on one hand it flies all over the electronic flower field, skirting from darker dubstep petals to tattered glitch plants and the washed out leaves of trip hop, and on the other it never settles long enough to really collect anything. The hive queen isn’t too happy about this, as all she wants is for the bee to make its mind up and supply her with a constant, coherent identity. The indecisiveness is vexing if not too much for her to cope with, but the bee doesn’t give a fuck: it’s just having a good time.

With Cold Spring Fault Less Youth the queen can relax somewhat as Mount Kimbie have finally settled on their own special Mount Kimbie flower. No more imitation and no more shifts of style: according to a recent interview at least. A promising statement, though one doing a huge disservice to their earlier releases, which owed much of their popularity to their uniqueness. “Taps,” a track styled off dripping water, comes to mind as something difficult to class as imitation. People will say anything to drum up hype it seems, even to the point of downplaying previously excellent material.

It’s also fairly misleading, as Cold Spring Fault Less Youth fits very snugly into Mount Kimbie’s pre-existing catalogue. The smooth, trip-hop beats have been explored before, and although this album bears little significance to 2010’s Crooks and Lovers you’d end up with something resembling their debut EP if you mixed the two together. This is Mount Kimbie minus the glitch: trading cuts and samples for liquid flow and doped up vibes.

“Break Out” is possibly the best example when playing spot-the-difference between both LPs. The entirely synth led introduction progresses without a hint of percussion for the first two thirds like a palette cleanser instead of a build up, but when it fades out and we expect Mount Kimbie to start chopping they follow through with a very danceable, minute-long burst of fun. Naked synths and minimal percussion are allowed to progress naturally until pure groove is pulled from a bass guitar riff to top it off. Straightforward as it may be, it’s catchy in all the ways denied to them when they still carried their IDM baggage. Inoffensive summer music done right, in other words.

King Krule offers an invaluable performance on his two appearances, with his deliberate drawl delivery drawling like never before. His contribution to “You Took Your Time” creates the high point of the album as his emotional vocals echo off a superbly wonky synth background. Selective percussion builds the track further and King Krule’s lyrics do their part with suitably dichotomic lyrics. “I was not born to be taught, I was born to be exposed in the storm and held warm” is both antagonistic and resigned: a sentiment mirrored in Mount Kimbie’s reserved approach to uplifting music. It’s a track as angry as it as relaxing, and a complete success for Mount Kimbie in their hope for an even more unique sound.

Cold Spring Fault Less Youth comes off the boil towards the end when tracks fail to progress beyond three minute jams, but the style and technicality prevent this from becoming too much of a downer for Mount Kimbie’s second LP outing. It does feel like filler at times though, so perhaps the album would have worked a lot better as an EP instead of a full length. Nevertheless, the good outweighs the bad, so while we don’t have a perfect album we still have one which adequately showcases Mount Kimbie’s new approach. Whether they stick with this style is another question entirely: it still might not be unique enough.

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