This Is The Kit, the alias of Kate Stables, returned in 2015 with a new album “Bashed Out” after a few years hiding away and as a new listener, it was a perfect time to catch me aboard her unique brand of soft indie folk.
“Misunderstanding” which opens the album showcases everything you can love about her vibe. A lazy but catchy guitar hook slinks and slides its way down and around the listeners ears. Muted percussion quietly builds and adds layers over the top and Kate’s purity in her voice means that so little goes so far. Every waiver, quiver and nuance shines through. The track itself is hypnotic in the way it builds over a single hook. “Silver John” takes a more folk rock stance with electric guitars, harmoniums and a slow anthemic build up over its three and half minutes. The way the music builds over such a soft voice makes it feel almost overwhelming for the listener and for Kate herself and adds that extra emotional impact.
“Spores All Settling” brings in the ukulele for added country twangs in what is a sparsely arranged track. The vocals are doubled up so as Kate sings as she tends to do not quite bang on the 4/4 time signature, it carries more weight here on a more energetic, yet still sad track. As she sings “running from the rain / seeing us again” it sounds angelic and lethargic together and that’s quite an achievement. “Magic Spell” takes the electro-acoustic side which is so well produced throughout this album and runs with it for a great anthem. It’s cute, energetic and happy! The keyboards give a certain early 70’s psychedelia vibe as they jingle/jangle. It’s a very tight song elsewhere instrument wise but it’s feels warm and soft and the lyrics show it as she repeats “pick yourself up off your rusty dusty!”
Title track “Bashed Out” has a sway to it and a witchy vocal hook that matches the chord changes in a spooky and eerie way. It’s equal parts spooky and inviting and that’s no bad thing. “All in Cahoots” adds some understated brass into the mix in a St Vincent lite styled track – but always soothing and never jagged. “Nits” is an interesting title for a track and includes gems of lyrics like “happy little fatties” as it talks of never giving up and to keep on climbing. It’s an alternative encourager! It also features piano for only the second time all album too. “Vitamins” is a seriously cool track. It’s in a beautiful high register and the lyrics are “All we need are some green leaves – sort you right out”. It’s a simple yet effective lyric but somehow feels so much bigger than its subject matter. The guitar and brass are sublime here too.
The single lyric repetition continues in “We Are In” which is a glossy vocal lead track that relies on a simple piano and synth base to allows Kate’s voice to shine. She gives each line a fragility and waiver that imbues it with love and wisdom. It’s the kind of song that will reduce you to tears without warning. The closer is “Cold and Got Colder” which is more rockier than most of the album, but also feels like a spiral of chords strumming down and further down. The sad chords straddle a rousing voice and so it touches all of the feels – especially when the drums and guitars get more raucous towards the end.
To say “Bashed Out” is an emotional album is an understatement. That voice could lead me to cliff and back again as it disarms you and lifts you in equal measure. I feel enriched each time I listen to it and quite simply for me – it’s one of the albums of the year.