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Kishi Bishi – “Lighght” Review

An album crammed full of some of the best hooks of recent memory
Kishi Bashi
Kishi Bashi

Sometimes you come across an artist that just has that flair. It makes your ears prick up, your blood burst into flow and your senses come along. Kishi Bishi is one of those artists for me – and possibly one of favourite new discoveries for 2014.

“Lighght” you see, is such a boundless happy album full of amazing hooks, catchy tunes, silly noises, amazing string arrangements and chirpy mobile phone ad style rock done properly! After the opening string squiggle of “Debut – Impromptu” we burst into “Philosophise In It! Chemicalise With It!” which was originally written for an advert but is now an acoustic guitar rock anthem. Kishi Bishi’s vocals a clean tone to them that doesn’t deviate for the note. It’s that precision on the vocals, strings, guitars and drums that makes the album a joy to listen to. “The Ballad of Mr Steak” reminds me a bit of Patrick Wolf’s happier tracks initially as the dance beat and orchestral strings cross over each other with a Mika style vocal scream. For the choruses though it breaks out into a phat synth pop track with cheesy but fun keyboard riffs taking over. The lyrics are so silly to “Mr Steak – you’re a grade A!” is the call out. It’s so catchy though – you’ll have it and most of the album on repeat. “Carry On Phenomenon” is a great cross between the previous track and harks back to the late 80’s power pop rock tracks. The lyrics are clever as they usually end with “Carry on and on and on” / “Carry On Phenomenon” – it doesn’t sound clever bit it’s one of those little impressions that gets lodged right in your brain. It’s such a tightly woven track – there’s no filler (indeed the albums barely got any at all) and even the middle eight is inventive in it’s detuned breakdown.

“Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her” is the first time we have some relative quiet as Kishi Bashi’s spoken word intro over a Western cowboy trickles that twist into a beautiful collage of strings and finger picking guitars. The strings become the beat as the other instruments grow in complexity – it’s a great track because you could almost not notice there’s no drum track because of how percussive the other instruments become. “Impromptu No.1” is a minute of arcs, arpeggios and echoing stringed instruments and twisted vocal ooh’s. It flows into the acoustic guitar driven ditty “Q&A”. This is the most straight forward track as the cute vocals, hushed tones, warm production (which is ever-present but glows brighter here) and minimal string work all come together for a real lighter swayer. “Once Upon A Lucid Dream (In Afrikaans)” see’s the introduction of the ultra cute chipmunk backing vocal loops that absolutely make the next three tracks. This is a clap and shout along pop rock track with a disco tinge. It’s the perfect blend of the genres that Kishi Bashi gets right and nails perfectly. His ability to switch vocal register at a moments notice helps it stay dynamic too.

The chipmunk backing vocals stay for “Hahaha Part 1” which I think is my favourite track on the album – but that’s pushing it! It sounds like an opening theme, or trailer music for the next LittleBigPlanet game. It has that cool, party, fresh and current vibe without even trying – like a party Passion Pit. “Hahaha Part 2” is similar to the vibe of the previous track but it’s like your sliding through the track in slow motion and trapped inside a psychedelic spinning tube. It’s trippy, like a grande finale where everyone comes out the bows. It’s amazing how the instruments and keyboards all blur and bleed into each other to give you a dream like experience. “In Fantasia” then rounds off the album with the sole quiet moment as the strings and vocals drift from pulsating and reverberating chords to a collage of voices and dense and intense soundscapes. It’s a wonderful send off and there’s also a bonus alternative version of “Philosophise In It, Chemicalise In It!” too.

Lighght is an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. I can find no fault in any of the songs. I can only find it within myself to keep pressing repeat for all the tracks. This is one underground artist you desperately need to seek out – I think he could be one of those artists than can appeal to most. Watch out album of the year, Kishi Bashi’s stamping his foot down!

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