Folk rock gets to freeform skip to.
‘Off Off On’ is the latest album in This Is The Kit’s slow transformation from a purist banjo folk-rock band into something more psyche-lite in the rock world. After taking a bold step in that direction ‘Moonshine Freeze’, this fifth album embraces the power of a skipping beat and free flowing guitar in all its glory.
As you enjoy the opening four tracks, they all have one thing in common – their upbeat percussive trip. When combined with the cleverly crafted noodling of the guitar, it feels like each song is tripping over itself to spill its energy and emotion onto you. Add in Kate Stables assured and clean voice and you have a mini freight train of hope steaming towards you. It is in this rhythmic freestyling that the album really relishes a newfound life for This Is The Kit. True, this kind of energy has always been here, but this is the most that Stables has let everything in.
This kind of pitter-patter shuffle then tumbles down to other instruments. The use of saxophone in ‘Coming to Get your Nowhere’ is sassy and fun. It reminds me a little of Tune-Yards’ second album in some ways in its joy whilst not sounding anything like it. The trademark lush guitar is front and centre elsewhere with the caravan sailing ‘Carry Us Please’ and the banjo is still strong with title track ‘Off Off On’ where the rootsy side of the band shines strong. What is a triumph is how all the rootsy instruments sound naturally at home in a more rock-based setting. It is a delicate juggling act but This Is The Kit nails it.
As the album nears its end it begins to calm down and becomes a more reflective and quietly hopeful album. Gone is the more scatter-brained energetic approach and in comes a more soulful rock that is happy to basket in the moment. The exiting trio of songs work so well together to slow you down. Although the album was largely written in 2019, the lyrics seem utterly relevant to today – especially with ‘Keep Going’. Its quiet resolve and cheerleading of the listener speaks of things ‘dropping like flies’ and of infections too. It is a rally call to love more, love often and love with intent. It is a great message in trying times without ever feeling trite.
Easily up there with the best of the band, ‘Off Off On’ is a resounding success of a musician who is learning to let other influences mould her styles into new sounds without it ever losing the essence that makes This Is The Kit so uniquely Kate Stables. If that were to be drowned out, it is likely the music would not have such an engrossing identity to it. This is a lovely album of hope and encouragement that will lift you in times of need. This album should be on, on and on again.
Recommended track: This Is What You Did
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