Kanda – All the Good Meetings are Taken

Kanda
All the Good Meetings are Taken

Ah synth-pop, how we love you so. Thanks to acts like The Postal Service, it’s becoming very fashionable to release albums of fluffy synth-pop melodies wrapped up in a modern IDM package. The icing on the cake is having an indie-pop crooner (‘sup Gibbard) use excess lyrics from his other band’s last album to create undeniably catchy guilty-pleasure hits. Obviously, such things are not limited to an IDM artist on one coast and an indie-rock superstar located on the opposite coast. Canadian act Stars managed to form an actual living band in order to record some of the best New Order cover songs since Get Ready. So it should come as no surprise that Kanda is the product of Arland Nicewander and Akina Kawauchi. Consider them a hybrid of the collective group efforts of Stars and the IDM sensibilities Dntel’s Tamborello adds to Gibbard’s coffeehouse musings. Sure, they may seem like Postal Service Part II, but their latest release All the Good Meetings are Taken is the wonderfully hung over and strung out counterpart to the niceness of Give Up.

“Artic” opens the record with a synth buzz reminiscent of Fischerspooner and droning bass. When the break beats kick in for the bridge to the chorus, there’s an underlying feeling that everything is indeed going to be just fine. The second verse opens up even more, allowing Akina to lend vocals amidst fuzz guitar and wailing synth. Postal Service never sounded this excited to be playing music, as even “Such Great Heights” still sounded controlled. “Artic” threatens to run off the rails with every tempo change. It’s a great way to open the record.

Kanda follow up with “They’ll Need Cocaine,” which carries an OMD melody buried under a respectable bassline Hooky (that’s the New Order bassist for the lot of you) himself would be proud of. So, two songs in and already Kanda drops a song about Cocaine complete with gorgeous synth lines lifted straight off of a white-powereded mirror from 1983 house party in Beverly Hills. The coke and vodka theme continues with “Drink For Three,” where Arland tosses out couplets like “why do I drink for four? / it leaves me falling down on the floor / screaming ‘you’re a little whore’ / and scraping up my knee.” It’s a great piss-off track for the mixtape invariably sent anonymously to an ex-girlfriend. Elsewhere, “Face It” sounds like The Cardigans had that been a good band. Akina’s voice is gorgeous here, and backed by Glockenspiel(!?) and sparse angular beats it makes an addictive track.

If there is any fault to All the Good Meetings are Taken, it’s that the album is crazy short, with the longest track just over three minutes. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise, since the desire to play the album again after “One Place” draws to a somber close is often too great to resist. This album is worth it for the opening track alone, but deep album cuts like “Ronnie Stay in the Basement” or “White Pants” ensure that Kanda wants to hold your attention until the very last note.