Founded in August 2010, Kins are already a well-travelled band. Formed in Australia but based in both Brighton and Stockholm, they recorded their third offering, ‘Cyclical’ in Germany, after travelling around the US supporting Courtney Barnett, but frequent flyer miles are not the only thing Kins are building up. Considerable buzz followed the release of their self-titled debut album as well as other EP and single releases, and many people were looking forward to their new project, and thankfully it doesn’t disappoint.
The first thing that hits you when listening to opening track ‘Young’ are the vocals. Comparisons in music critiques can be tiring, but it’s hard not to think that If the lead singers from Alt-J and Wild Beasts ever had a love child that grew up to be an introspective young man, reading T.S Eliot poems with Radiohead playing in the background, that young man would be Kins lead singer, Thomas Savage. His subtly aggressive falsetto carries all four tracks into dreamy and relaxed territories, while at the same time being tinged with an elusive intensity that could erupt at any given second.
Musically Kins are an interesting outfit with a sound that’s hard to pin down. At one moment you are sure they are guitar-pop/art-rock band as opener ‘Young’ would suggest but as the EP progresses, they take sharp turns into minimal electronic territory as both the beats and lyrics get darker. “Is this all it is till the end?/ Is this all there is to comprehend?” sings Thomas Savage in almost a whisper, flooded with angst, on standout title track ‘Cyclical’, which means occurring in cycles; recurrent, which could be a nod to some of the sparse receptive beats that surround this EP.
‘Little Dancer’ is another standout track that closes the four song EP, and clocking in at 8:36, it’s as ambitious as it is adventurous. The song almost has two parts, starting off slightly upbeat for the first three minutes; the song then takes a more sinister turn. A repetitive bass drum lets out defiant thumps as thick electronic shivers dance around the vocals that gradually intensifies, slowly building and building, until it’s joined by a crescendo of crashing cymbals. When listening to the last few minutes you find yourself waiting for a bigger explosion that never comes and while it’s a slight anti-climax the build-up is so enticing, you feel glad for at least being able to go along for the ride.
What makes this EP a great listen is the subtlety that engulfs it. The lyrics are dark but not so dark that they inspire laughter instead of thought. The vocals are packed with intensity but not so much that it becomes tiring. The ambience of each track is so relaxing; it’s almost tangible, but not enough to make your mind wonder off into the deepest depths of boredom.
It seems that Kins have found a formula, which may not be perfect on a longer release, but works perfectly here.
The ‘Cyclical’ EP is out now on East City Records. The full track-listing for the EP is as follows…