Every so often, an album so unsuspecting comes along that it takes three, four, maybe even five listens before a true appreciation for the music sets in. Kinetic’s Sun and Glacier is a fine example of that brand of album, a disc that’s powerful and lush (though extremely subtle about it).
Kinetic takes all the good parts of My Bloody Valentine and early Built to Spill and meshes them with vibes reminiscent of SST-era Dinosaur Jr. While the songwriting is less frazzled (and more ‘modern’), the overall sound combines influences ranging from the previously mentioned guitar heroes to acts such as Radiohead.
The first few minutes of album opener “Incandescent” are a slow burn; right at the point where the song sounds like a throwaway, a fierce guitar squall roars through and transforms everything. The song winds down in wails (of both the vocal and six-string variety) meandering along variations of, “We’re incandescent in a room with black walls.” The fuzzy bass and peppy guitar leads in “A Scene Unseen” make it sound like a great Superchunk mid-album track; the tight off-kilter rhythm of “Idiot Attorney” is made even sharper with lyrics like, “What’s the company policy on exit wounds?”
The best four minutes on the album, however, come in the form of “Red Curtain,” where vocals channeling Thom Yorke float over rhythms and fantastic lead guitar work straight out of Dinosaur Jr’s You’re Living All Over Me. The result is a track that should (with any justice) find itself on plenty of mix CDs in due time. That vibe carries over to a lesser degree in “Saboteur,” which relies more on flashy guitar leads.
Kinetic feels like a concise act, but when Sun and Glacier stretches out, the results are tasty. The deliberate, spacey vibes of the eight-minute “Electrocute” slink out of speakers and headphones like velvet snakes, while the dreamscape lull of “Power Lines” is only interrupted temporarily with verbiage such as, “You’ve got your fathers eyes and your mother’s taste for drink.” Closing number “One Thousand Words” may be the world’s only shoegazer space cowpoke ballad, heh.
Of all of the discs floating around with bands that seem to be liberally ‘borrowing’ from their influences, Kinetic’s Sun and Glacier comes off as a disc that stands on its own merits outside of the ‘sounds like’ category. The rhythm section is polished, both the rhythm and lead guitar playing is ace, and the production is perfect for the band’s material – hazy, but balanced enough for each individual instrument to carry a strong amount of weight throughout the entire album. Recommended to the highest degree.