Three Second Kiss – Long Distance

Three Second Kiss - Long Distance

Three Second Kiss - Long Distance

Three Second Kiss methodically scramble post-rock, post-punk, math, and noise rock on their new LP, Long Distance. Their challenging chops and rhythms don’t go down smoothly. Rather, they test conventions and ultimately make for an interesting listen, though not a fully enjoyable one.

This veteran band from Bologna, Italy, sound tight even when they sound messy. This crafted clatter comes punching and piercing through speakers cleanly thanks to Steve Albini’s production. Instruments have a raw, live, and straight-from-the-cabinet sound, a sound other producers should envy. Three Second Kiss’ style resembles Don Caballero and June of ’44.

Like those bands, Three Second Kiss can make abrasive dissonance, spastic rhythms, and off kilter riffing into rock music. Their experimental leanings are harnessed and made to scramble in relative unison. Beneath the cacophony are tight structures that seem to happen partly out of chance but mostly from method. But, on Long Distance, that structure isn’t always sound and is often compromised by the vocal.

Track two, “I’m A Wind”, is the album’s first winner and shows the band’s strengths. The bass punctuates the drums with precision while the guitar challenges this union before getting back on the same page. “Inexorable Sky” is a clear favorite and probably the album’s most accessible track. It kicks off with the rhythm section’s slow, head nodding groove. The guitar rolls through its hammer-ons, pull-offs, taps, and bends. The spoken vocals are overshadowed by the guitar because the six string tells a far more vivid story with its unique personality. Two tracks later, the subdued intro of “Dead Horse Swimming” breaks under the slow slamming of a tom drum. The guitar builds a riff around a few bending notes crammed between quick string taps. Like all the riffs on Long Distance, this one comes in fits, starting and stopping and adjusting until it teams up with the bass and drum. But, again, the vocal fails and then it fails again when the band tries a few, short harmonies. Over its nearly five and half minute run, “Dead Horse Swimming” takes on several rhythm changes without breaking momentum. This may be the only song in which the rhythm changes more than the guitar riff.

But the other songs don’t fare as well as these three. Often, the abrasive side of Three Second Kiss outshines the band’s talents. Parts and combinations feel forced, and the frequent change ups take away from the music more than they add to it. Arguably, the weakest link is the vocal. The singer often uses spoken word, and this approach shrinks in the glaring colors and textures weaved by the jutting riffs and rhythms. When he tries to sing, it gets better. He even tries for a David Yow style that comes close. But the fact is that he is not a very good singer, and his nasally voice doesn’t have the tone or personality to work with the other instruments.

Musically, there’s a lot to like about Long Distance. The guitar is a crafty force matched by the taut and toned rhythm section. The bass and drum kit shines even when playing the straight man to the wiley, unpredictable guitar. Sometimes the sound grows on you, lets you share in that nervous quest for harmony. But it can be a rough journey, and the promised land must be sweet for it to be worth the effort. On Long Distance, it usually isn’t.