The summer rock anthems we have been waiting for in 2020
If, like me, you have been looking for this year’s easy-breezy summer rock album that feels vibrant, uptempo, celebratory and catchy – I think I’ve found it. Kidsmoke have been building momentum with their first few singles and now with their debut album ‘A Vision In The Dark’, they managed to title their album just as I envisage their music. This is designed for summer drives in an open-top car or walks through parks with your friends.
The album kicks off with a triple threat right out of the gate. ‘Passenger’, ‘Layla’s Love’ and ‘Colourfield’ all have that 90’s indie rock/pop crossover sound that made for so many memorable songs from that era. Kidsmoke is firmly in the rock sector of that genre but they aren’t afraid to use anthemic chords, cute hooks and strong motifs. They also borrow from the ethereal pop genre for their backing vocals and subtle use of hazy afterglow to their guitars. It is this chilled out vibe that makes their music slide across your ears like a melting scoop of ice cream. It just feels effortless.
It takes a lot to make something so seamless and fluid but what I marvelled at was that the quality never dips. ‘Higher’ is a lighter swaying optimistic loner smash hit in waiting. ‘She Takes You Under’ pays homage to The Cure and perhaps latter-day Cocteau Twins too with its driving guitar riffs and hopeful vocals. ‘Rising Sun’ on the other hand showcases Kidsmoke’s ability to rock out fully and pay homage to some of the best alternative sounds out there. ‘Take Me To The River’ really reminds me of Sea Wolf because of how the band switch chords in a spiralling circle. On top of that, a single riff repeats across most of the song but it sounds constantly different as the chords change how you feel about it underneath. Again – any of these songs could be on the radio and you’d immediately be toe-tapping , singing along and playing them all on high volume.
After almost the entire album punching out driving smash hit after hit, Kidsmoke brings things down to a mid-tempo close. ‘Still Dreams’ lets you enjoy some of the hazier sides of the guitars as layer upon layer of guitar riffs over each other. ‘Little Easy’ pulls towards shoegaze and focuses on the ensemble vocals that grow into an emotional finale where all the other instruments fade away leaving just voices chiming away. This then lets the superb closer ‘The Bluest You’ take on the mantle of merging this slower gazing vibe and making a clever outro of it all. The extended guitar-driven outro is inspired and reminds me of classic rock albums where track order mattered. You can feel the album built to this moment and everything feels earned. It’s also just as catchy as the rest of the tracks.
I genuinely feel like this will be one remembered as one not just one of the best rock albums of 2020 but one of the best regardless of genre. It is punchy, rounded, emotive and full of memorable moments from beginning to end. There is not one track that rests on its laurels. Kidsmoke have created a modern masterpiece.
Recommended track: Higher
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