Without intending to sound condescending, things are really starting to get interesting for Kinski now – on their seventh full-length album. For the sake of context, Kinski willfully challenged themselves a couple of years ago when the (long thought to be) instrumental band released Cosy Moments, an album which defied convention because it featured lyric sheets and vocal performances by guitarist Chris Martin and thereby forced the band to employ more conventional pop song structures. That was a really big deal at the time, but now the band has gone a step further and injected a fantastic dose of raw power and attitude into the mix as well. This time, the previously pretty textural and aesthetically focussed band that fans know has turned up, stripped their mixes down and begun blasting streams of fire and brimstone out, AS WELL AS including vocals on several tracks with no apology; fans can like it or lump it.
As luck would have it, this writer happens to like it. From the moment “Detroit Trickle Down” oozes out to open the record just dripping distortion and fury, listeners will immediately find similarities to the early days of grunge as well as Queens Of The Stone Age’s desert aura and immediately feel their jaws drop. This sound is so far from what fans expect of this band; while it’s still very measured and controlled, the song doesn’t even try to rely on that structure for support – it just powers through and feels like it might have been a jam caught live at the band’s rehearsal space and it’s great. Chris Martin and Mayy Schwartz’ guitars are caustic, ruthless and unrelenting in their assault, and the force of Lucy Atkinson and Barrett Wilke’s rhythm threatens to break ribs in its brutal brilliance. Even better still, the track plays a little loose, so it seems totally off-the-cuff! The sense of spontanaeity that “Detroit Trickle Down” implies is infectious and will have listeners locked in immediately.
“Flight Risk” continues the trend and brings a little more focus onto the possible Queens Of The Stone Age comparison (both the vocals and the lyrics tell the story – check out “Take off that mask/ Look at e straight/ Why feel guilty/ no one cares what is right/ As long as I don’t hurt you”), but it’s then that listeners realize those are the first lyrics they’ve actually heard! Yes, “Detroit Trickle Down” is an instrumental track, but it’s so aggressive and tangible in its performance that the fact it’s also wordless might not have been immediately apparent at first – the music commands such a presence.
Surprising moments like the epiphany some listeners may have had about the fact that words only begin to appear on track two continue to crop up regularly as 7 (Or 8) progresses. On “Powder,” for example, listeners will find it easy to take respite between the hope-inspiring guitars and the smooth, soul-salving drums which push the song along (again, no lyrics – the sensation is implied, but very clearly felt) before falling headfirst into the mosh pit below “Drink Up And Be Somebody,” which sounds like it could easily have been the result of a boozy jam with the members of Soundgarden, and then rolling into the cuddly, Lemonheads-y alt-rock of “Operation Negligee.”
At each of those stops, listeners will find it unbelievable not only just how well-crafted the songs are, but how timeless they prove to be. While Kinski only began releasing albums in 1999, some of these songs play so well that they could easily have been radio hits at the height of alt-rock’s powers seven years before then. On one hand, such impeccable quality could be seen as something of a heartbreaker (how many people are looking for a new alt-rock or grunge band to rule the world in 2015? – the title has cult status written all over it) but, on the other, that quality and the flexibility that Kinski has proven they’re possessed of here might just make them the great secret in the rock canon. Lots of critics are calling rock dead again at the moment? Kinski fans can just smile knowingly that those fools are either full of shit or just clueless.
Kinski – 7 (Or 8) – “Flight Risk” – [www.groundcontrolmag.com/music/Kinski-Flight_Risk.mp3]