Sunday, 6 January 2008

Album Review - Kyte: Kyte

Kyte – Kyte (KIDS) released 18/2/08
If there is a shoegaze revival going on, Kyte aren’t a part of it. Especially not shoerave, whatever that might be, thank you NME. What this Leicestershire five-piece have achieved with their self-titled debut album is a musically enlightened glacial soundscape born of the surging ambience of Sigur Rós and the deft lyricism of Death Cab for Cutie: an instrumentally organic, homegrown parcel of Postal Service dream-pop.

Layers of clean sound swell and subside through each track on this album, a huge departure from the encompassing white-noisiness of quintessential shoegazers such as My Bloody Valentine. For Kyte, each musical component is polished and placed within a swirling mêlée that builds electronica into the gentle chug of math-rock guitars, tidal currents of percussion and the hypnotic twinkle of piano and xylophone. Somewhere inside this sonic hangar the lonesome lo-fi vocals of Nick Moon float on a synth cloud, murmuring charismatic threnodies. If only the boy wouldn’t affect an American accent…

Opener ‘Planet’ is the only track to be previously released as a 7” single on Sonic Cathedral. It showcases orb-like loops of piano and lead that slip into gasping percussive currents under the indie-sensible reaches of the vocal, eventually climaxing in pulsating reverb-saturated guitars and endless cymbal froth before pattering out to keyboard chords. It seems an odd choice for the band’s debut, whose talents might be better explored through the celestial 8-bit and grounding arpeggiated piano loop of ‘They Won’t Sleep’. This album highlight switches to the fizzing skitter of 16-beat drum-work mid-swell, building into the fuzz of a white noise finale that echoes into the barely audible intro of the ultimate track, ‘These Tales of Our Stay’.

There are clattering drums and piercing glockenspiel in the Mercury-nominated Maps mix of ‘Secular Ventures’ and evidence of extraordinary percussive talent in the range of instrumentation used on the latino-shuffle of ‘Home’. One of Kyte’s warmest offerings, ‘Sunshine’, begins with a screeching dial-up modem loop, becoming a synthetic track of continuous upward movement interspersed with delicious vinyl crackles and the gentle thump of the piano, like the yellow of the day creeping through cold window glass, warming etiolated winter skin.

Since the release of ‘Planet’ in September Kyte have clinched a backing track deal with the ubiquitous HBO for the Sopranos’ new trailer, been hailed by NME as ‘Best New Band On Myspace’ and toured with the likes of The Whip. With an average age of 20 and a sound that leaves plenty of scope for maturation, this is a band to look out for in 2008. The album’s a slow burner lacking in the melodic hooks that make Death Cab or Postal Service so lucratively listenable, but there is movement here – the evolution of organic-electro sound – and it is tangible and real and promises to make Kyte an exciting live act, too.

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