Thursday, September 29, 2011

REVIEW// Stray Kites: Mieux

     I was sent this a few days ago, but illness and a birthday (a truly terrible combination) have prevented frequent posts! Stray Kites are a little Virginian folkpop duo consisting of Junior Roseboro and Max Detrich, and their latest sophomore album, 'Mieux', is available in a name-your-price fashion over on the Bandcamp here. In researching the group, I noticed a subtle difference between this and their first album 'One Day, Earth Time'. Something about 'Mieux' feels a little more mature. The tone is a shade darker, but the self-recorded charm shines more brightly because of it. If the duo's previous effort was just to have fun, 'Mieux' is the day after. They've composed themselves so much more here. The music is more refined, the songs stand proud with added integrity, and the whole thing has risen high above the level set by their debut. I was told Stray Kites sounded a little like Neutral Milk Hotel, and I couldn't agree more. The lyricism is just so fantastic. Every word oozes a folkpop honesty that you believe completely. They're delivered with an unmistakable quirkiness that comforts and uplifts and I love it. You have been chosen to stare deep into these men's hearts and experience all the strife, worry and joy, and you know what? From start to finish, an individuality lines the lyricism and the instrumentation backs it perfectly. It's an absolute masterpiece. Humble, musical, genius.
     'Aside/Ideal Death' opens the lp with a furiously upbeat backing track supporting the despondent lyrical theme that floats about these ten tracks. 'Misanthrope' follows, carried along by a clap beat and energetic guitars. Every number here is lush with instrumental vibrance. Trumpets, guitars, vibraphone and shakers all make an appearance, layered between the singing and building to create something that, while minimalistic on the surface, becomes beautifully complex the harder you listen. Rain sets the scene on 'The Ghoster', a cooling breather from the warm vibes inside. A foot-tapping melody on 'All is Well' backs some pretty spectacular singing and smile-inducing 'ha ha ha's. 'Mirror Talk' is most definitely my favourite track here though, I must admit. "Now you're the devil, on a funeral bed, but there’s no point in crying, because we know you aren’t dead" goes one of the lines, sang with a tired acceptance and musing a relationship gone wrong. There are subtle moments of overwhelming passion as the vocals can't contain themselves anymore, before a loud climax finishes the number. The talking at the end of the next song, 'Id', is thought-provoking and beaming with youthful insight. 'Talking Plaster Walls pt. 3' takes a break from the relative intensity of the rest of the album, and 'Dust To Dust To Dust To Dust' immediately gets your pulse racing again, surround sound proving its worth as the music surrounds you on all sides. And then, finally, the title track starts. After all the emotion and power and softness, 'Mieux' marks the beginning of the end.
     As the closing build and ultimate, euphoric zenith settle for the last time, we're treated to the band laughing and congratulating themselves on what has become something so, so wonderful. Roseboro and Detrich are strong friends, and they're managed to turn that trust into a fantastically relatable record. Their bond ties these ten songs together with more than just theme and tone. They believe in what they write, and as such we too come to believe. All the things that make music great make themselves known. Honesty? Check. Originality? Check. Passion? Check. Stream 'Mirror Talk' below and head over to the link above to grab the splendour. Like I mentioned before, 'Mieux' is an absolute masterpiece!