This Is The Kit
Rough Trade Records
One of the rare delights of attending music festivals is the experience of falling under the spell of a band that you had no prior knowledge of. The ones whose magic slowly seeps into you without you being consciously aware of it. The ones that you end up raving about instead of the bands you’d forked out your money to see.
When This is the Kit performed at the Moseley Folk Festival last year I was busy taking photographs and waiting for Songhoy Blues. Gradually, the sound of Kate Stables gently plucking her guitars and banjo, together with her pure and unaffected vocals began wrap around me, until I was transfixed. By the following Monday, they were the only band at the festival that I was talking about.
This Is The Kit's ability to delicately get under your skin is apparent throughout their fourth album ‘Moonshine Freeze'. The opener 'Bullet Proof’ sets the tone, a sweet banjo melody underlines Kate’s aching, melancholy lyrics '...bullet proof, they never loved you, you let too many bullets through...', then gentle strings and lines like 'all the things we broke today, needed breaking anyway' allude to something even sadder.
Produced by PJ Harvey collaborator John Parrish, Moonshine Freeze is an slow – burning, intimate experience. On each song the warm layers of instrumentation slowly open up and melt into you. The title track (and first single), makes a modest entrance with strummed guitars and an unobtrusive bass line before Kate delivers her beguiling, poetic lyrics. ‘Cycles of three triangles are tricky' runs the chorus which, however enigmatic it may be, is a joy to sing along with. Even better, the gorgeous ‘By My Demon Eye' discreetly slips a chorus in Croatian into a reflective song about relationships without ever sounding conspicuous and sounding like a well loved nursery rhyme.
The most affecting song on the album is ‘Riddled with Ticks’ a stripped back acoustic number. 'And I will fight you' Kate repeats throughout the chorus, concluding '... And you will lose.' It’s an alarming metaphor for what is, probably, another song about the frailty of relationships. It’s one of the most intimate moments here.
'Moonshine Freeze' concludes with the enveloping ‘Solid Grease’, which starts with an unaccompanied vocal and builds up to a mesmerising minute-long piano solo. It’s a glorious way to bring This Is The Kit's finest album to date to an end. I look forward to being entranced by them at another festival soon.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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