Have you ever stopped to just listen to the world around you? Have you ever had a moment when you are listening to sound and think to yourself, “That sound is pure poetry?” You know, the kind of subtle sound that is seductive from beginning to end, which is moody and broody, and yet sensually attractive? If you know what I am talking about, then Kyte’s latest album, “Dead Waves” (downloadable in the USA since 16 April 2010, CD import available 27 April 2010) is for you; if you do not know what I am talking about, you are about to learn exactly what I mean. Hailing from Leicestershire, UK, Kyte has trudged through the last few years compiling a repertoire of (nu)shoegaze material that leans heavily towards producing sweeping atmosphere. This is about music that relies heavily on melody and tight arrangements, favoring mood, sophistication, and ambience over grandstanding, bandwagons, or worn out clichés. This is music that is arrantly poetic.
With a bit of the grandiose of post-rock bands like Sigur Rós, coupled with a bit of the ambience of early post-punk like “A Forest” or “Charlotte Sometimes,” Kyte leans heavily on the electronic elements to produce a consistent sonic experience beginning to end. This is not to the say that the songs sound alike – quite the opposite, each song emotes its own individuality – but each track flows smoothly and effortlessly into each other. Opening with “The Smoke Saves Lives,” as you listen you have a strange experience. Conventionally speaking, this sounds like a song to close the album… you know, those kinds of song that just sort of rips out any emotion left after nearly an hour of listening. Instead, starting your near hour long listening experience, “Dark Waves” first song is an ambient faire that is sonically emotionally wrenching – making this a uniquely stunning opening for an album.
The song melds right into single, “Inhfsa.” Starting with an affected electronic voice, it becomes more than obvious that Kyte has strong pop sensibilities; yet they do not abandon themselves to them. Kyte is more concerned with composing sophisticated and ambient arrangements, and not radio-ready ditties. This song maintains the ambient feel of the rest of the album, while giving a three-and-three-quarter vignette of what the album has to offer – this is the perfect lead single for the album.
Interwoven through the twelve songs on the album are three songs of epic proportion. “Each Life Critical” languidly builds itself into soothing soundscape, as the synthpop inspired ostinato helps to bring you to that same point of languidness. “Fake Handshakes, Earnest Smiles” and the titular “Dead Waves” also build up slowly, but are the two moments on the album that the vocal arrangements seem to “lift” up from the music itself. I would be remiss if I did not mention “Designed for Damage.” By far the most alluring song on the album, amazingly arranged for maximum impact, this is the one song that meshes every single element on the album into one track. Though short of epic proportion, there is that epic feel; electronic, but the “classic” shoegaze shines through; gut wrenching, but cathartic; luxuriating in 80s’ cues, but fresh, urgent, and relevant. As time goes on, this is one of the tracks that is going to be known as a signature Kyte song.
2010 caught me by surprise with so many strong releases, and Kyte lifts up the proverbial bar slightly higher again. “Dead Waves” is an amazing album, whether you enjoy indie rock, shoegaze, post-punk revival, or electropop – but most amazingly, what you will find with this album is that none of those labels do it justice. Kyte’s “Dead Waves” defies singular classification, drawing on a range of cues and ingenious song writing to create a sophisticated album that is sensually tempting to get lost in.
1. The Smoke Saves Lives
3. You’re Alone Tonight
4. Designed for Damage
5. Like She Said
6. Fear from Death
7. Each Life Critical
8. No-One Is Angry, Just Afraid
9. Guns and Knives
10. Fake Handshakes, Earnest Smiles
11. Dead Waves
12. Strangest Words and Pictures
13. Creating Our Reality – iTunes bonus track
Keep up with Kyte at their homepage at Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here is their video for “Ihnfsa” from their YouTube Channel: kytetheband.