Kennedy – Pinks Afros EP

Kennedy
Pinks Afros EP

Regardless of your favored musical genres, there is no dispute that one of life’s great, infrequent treasures is hearing a song for the first time that instantly compels you to dance. When it’s by someone you’ve never heard of, much less heard, the sheer joy is ever greater. Such is the case with Kennedy. Pink Afros, the stylistically diverse Los Angelino’s latest EP, opens with one of the finest dance songs in many years. “Mama Made Me a Pimp” shifts from 16 somber seconds to the best disco-touched black pop song by a white guy from 1980 that you never heard, because Kennedy didn’t record the song until 2003.

“Mama Made Me a Pimp” benefits from a dreamy combination of vibrant keyboards, disco wails, thumping bass lines, high R&B vocals, and sleazy, cheesy lyrics: “Step out of the Caddy onto the street / Checkin’ the bitches, checkin’ the heat / I don’t want to go out, but / Mama made me a pimp from the very first day.” Kennedy’s EP opener is undoubtedly the catchiest, most invigorating floor-filler heard in a long time. It perfectly balances humor with melody. “Heavy Metal” finds Kennedy in more pervasive Vocoder territory that frustrates only to the extent that it sucks to be the last person to hear that Daft Punk has recruited Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon as its new lead vocalist. Seriously, “Heavy Metal” is a fun electro track, and Kennedy sounds theatrically worried on the chorus: “Monday morning meet my face with a cold embrace / The heavy metal in my brain keeps me strange.”

“Big Drag” takes Pink Afros on a different route, with Kennedy playing the acoustic troubadour. The song has a quirky Spanish appeal with its marches, bells, and synchronous guitars. Kennedy then takes a more folky, rural, laid-back approach with “You Were Gone.” The heavily percussive background would have been more pleasant had Kennedy buried it deeper in the final mix – it’s overbearing – but that’s a fault most listeners will tolerate. The funny narrative lyrics make this loud track amusing for a few listens, if nothing else. Unfortunately, even Kennedy’s atmospheric echoes and instrumental tricks near the end of his fifth track can’t save “Canada” from its boredom. This is the only disappointment on Pink Afros, ever more so because the first half of the EP is so strong. Pink Afros concludes with Kennedy’s hallucinogenic, tempered cover of “Heliotrope” by Robyn Hitchcock. One wonders what the English singer/songwriter and former Egyptians leader would think of Kennedy’s performance. It’s gentle, engrossing, and deserves to start and end a lazy, hazy summer weekend mix CD.

Kennedy has crafted a fun, constantly changing and genre-bending EP with a sweetness that makes up for its freakish stylistic schizophrenia. There’s nothing too deep and contemplative on Pink Afros, but almost every note is unexpected and spot on. The words are often funny, and Kennedy radically bounces across genres with ease and much success. This is an ideal EP for funky, twisted background music at a party or for post-party 4 a.m. discussions with friends who’ve decided to stay. Even the one miss on the album is compensated for by the five other knockouts, especially “Mama Made Me a Pimp.” Ignore Pink Afros and you may go musically bald or lose your color.