The Silence Kit – A Strange Labor

album5A few years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing an album by the Russian band Silence Kit. It was a phantasmagoria of sound wrought by a few like-minded experimental post-rock musicians. It’s odd that there exists two bands with the same unusual name, but here we have another Silence Kit, this time from the Philly/New Jersey area. The US Silence Kit tends towards aspirational indie rock and falls somewhere between Bikini Atoll and Interpol.

The cuts on A Strange Labor tend toward the near-grand. That is, they’re restrained versions fan-singalong anthems about love, loss, and other staples of the genre. There’s a hint of sadness and regret that tinges these minor-key tracks, in a way that the British bands have always been so good at. It’s guitar/bass/drums/programming/keyboards/vocals the way God intends for it to be.

On a cut like “And If I Ever See You Again,” it’s Interpol’s guitars, rolling toms, and — unexpectedly — no crescendo, no surging guitars at the end, no screaming. It’s the kind of restraint that younger bands can’t seem to harness. Likewise on “Reassurement.” And then on “You Can’t Be Serious,” it’s almost Arab Strap in its spare, dark, and even tone. “Linguist” breaks out the real rock moves, punctuating its sturm-und-drang with some really high bass notes. The bridge of the song features spacey keyboards and crisp guitar, a la Starsailor.

The album has a few ballad-type slow numbers with acoustic guitar as well: “Dry Summer,” “Missing the Point,” and “But This Remains” round out the collection by turning things down and getting sensitive, if a little melodramatic. It’s an occupational hazard and almost a truism that singers will over-emote when given the spotlight on the stripped-down, bare-your-soul numbers, unfortunately. It’s not overdone to the point of being distracting, though, so that’s a good thing. And besides, this album isn’t trying to be uplifting, so you have to cut it a little slack.