Kilowatthours – Strain of Positive Thinking

Strain of Positive Thinking

There’s been a lot of hype about the new Elliott album this year, and as much as it’s not valid to compare Kilowatthours to Elliott other than a former member of Elliott is in this band, it’s still on my mind. So, Elliott’s new album is the mainstream album that we knew they’d make but hoped they wouldn’t, and this is the absolutely gorgeous full-length that I had only hoped Kilowatthours was capable of. Now which would you prefer to spend your hard-earned money on?
There are some comparisons to be made between Kilowatthours and at least old Elliott, as both play a more melodic and pretty style of emo-rock. But Kilowatthours win me over with one very simple instrument: the piano. The piano is an integral element of every song here, and it’s incorporated so beautifully you don’t even notice that it’s a non traditional rock instrument. It blends with the guitars beautifully. And by blending the piano with the guitars or allowing the guitars to drive with a more My Bloody Valentine style power, the band manages to really set themselves apart. Add to the mix lilting and pretty vocals that bring to mind the atmospheric style of Christie Front Drive, and you get a downright amazing album.
The band starts off with “That You All Played,” an uplifting song with light drums and light piano but crunchy, driving guitar that provides an interesting dichotomy. As on most of these songs, the vocals are soothing and soft, ala Christie Front Drive, and they never overpower the music. And the song explodes into a climatic powerful crash of guitars and drums. “Kayla” is a more consistently paced pop song, with more of a focus on the vocals here and the piano fading more into the background, although the little breakdown in the middle is all about piano and soft guitar, and it will have you bopping around in no time. The piano is integral in the next two instrumentals: “Waterfront Park” showing the band at their most rocking, all-out and yet very tight, very clean, and “Another Great Reason” is a mournful dirge, quiet and contemplative yet endearing.
The title track starts off with a frail guitar line and slowly progresses before exploding with driving, textured guitars and pounding drumming and vocals that are just short of awe-inspiring. “Run Home” has a lilting quality, held up by some amazingly textured guitars and gorgeous vocals. This one really reminds me of Appleseed Cast’s style of emo. The band slows things down for a piano- and organ-laden rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says” that is just short of heartbreaking. And the band closes with “Ellipses,” a stellar rock track that blends the piano and guitars effortlessly and just all-out rocks.
Fans of Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral, Appleseed Cast, Christie Front Drive, and even Elliott’s first album will love Kilowatthours, but that’s not to say this is another sweetly melodic emo band. Rather, this band is a breath of fresh air into that scene, proving as adept at blasting away with layered guitars and driving percussion as getting sweet and somber. And the use of piano on this album is nothing short of brilliant and awe-inspiring. This is fantastic, fantastic stuff, sure to be one of my top albums of the year.