Kid Astray – Ignite
By: John McCall
Coming stampeding out of Norway with a uniquely Scandinavian thunder is the sensational burgeoning pop group Kid Astray, whose brand new extended play, Ignite, is setting both sides of the Atlantic on fire with its fun hooks and spellbinding layers of dreamy pop synthesizers. Formed in 2010 in Sandvika by six high school friends, Kid Astray has gone through numerous cosmetic and compositional evolution since their inception, and on their latest EP, we finally get to see the fully developed sound of the group in all of their sonic glory.
Whenever summertime rolls around, people start to crave a good dance record. Something about those long hot summer nights makes us incapable of fighting the urge to sway and move out under the stars or in the heat of a packed club. It’s part of our human DNA. A lot of pop singers release their most up-tempo singles and LPs around this time of year specifically for this reason, which can make it hard to find the real gems among the ocean of choices. It’s not hard to see why Kid Astray is taking over their home country’s music scene and setting their sights on the United States next; their knack for making memorable harmonies has never been more relentlessly consistent than in the material we find on Ignite. Featuring a broad experimentalism that takes from avant-garde, industrial music, early house, shoegaze, trip-hop, post-punk and even a little bit of J-pop, the five songs on the EP each provide us an exclusive glimpse into the depth and eccentricity that Kid Astray brings to the table. It is unfortunate that more of their contemporaries don’t dive into this level of freewheeling, open-minded postmodernism when they go into the studio. When I first listened to the record all the way through in a single run, I found myself completely enamored not only by the performance of the group, but also by the masterful command and direction of the soundboard on Ignite. I’ve heard some great producing in my career, but this is really dynamite stuff.
The EP opens with the jarringly atonal title track which gets our blood pumping at a swift pace and sets the tone for the entire record. The throbbing grooves are followed by the magnificent lead single “Joanne,” which perhaps serves as the best virgin greeting for new listeners who want to get acquainted with the sound, persona and style of Kid Astray. Supported by a mesmerizing, Cocteau Twins-style wall of sound, a furious percussive striking seems to suck us in deeper and deeper down a neon lit tunnel, until we’re finally brought into splendid full color of the opening verse. The sibling songs “Attract” and “Repel” keep the heat turned up with a shared psychedelic bassline that will make your entire stereo shake with delight, while the rebelliously slick “Can’t Stop” shifts us back into forward gear with a steady tempo that briefly cleanses our palate before we embark on more audiological sampling. Ignite is rounded out by the haunting “Are You Here?” which features a whimsical beat that is hard to get out of your head once you invite it in. Upon completion, the only thing we’re left to wonder is when we’ll get more from this remarkably innovative group of entertainers. If the buzz surrounding this newest release continues to grow, I think we’ll be hearing more from them very soon.