Album Review: Kyle Andrews – Real Blasty
In the last few years, I don’t know how many times I’ve read about someone’s attempt to merge classic songwriting with a modern approach, and every time I’ve found myself labeling it yet another “Nothing-New-Under-The-Sun”—a solemn piece of junk that follows a predictable formula, having nothing to do with either tradition or modernity, sounding awful, superficial, and botched.
This time is different, because Real Blasty by Kyle Andrews- who had already released the homemade Amos Ohio (‘06) and the extended 7-song EP Find Love, Let Go (‘07) – is really one of the freshest, catchiest, and funniest albums I’ve heard in the last decade. It sounds exactly like it could (and should) sound Elvis Costello nowadays.
It is also reminiscent of Joe Jackson (if only he would decide to give up his cheap translation of classical music), or Peter Case (if only he would decide to give up the most boring blues around in order to rediscover the exciting power-pop drive of his first years). What’s cool is that Kyle Andrews has been able to detonate such a cornucopia of energy and colors without playing a single note, or better, playing just a few of them–the sharpened notes of a 6-string, the sporadic ones of the drums by Neil Mason from Team 9 (a most iconoclastic mix of experts), the even more rare ones of a bass (Rufus Ducote) and of a cello (Austin Hoke).
All the other notes come from Andrews’s own keyboards and PC, tracing the perfect trajectory of a pop and roll–totally synthetic but not cold or impersonal at all–that can, in a way, remind one of previous experiences by Stereolab and Spoon, but definitely bringing these influences to another level where (finally!) rock and roll survives to the electronic-machine even if it clearly results as a branch of it.
As an example, just listen to Tennessee Torture Dreams, which is nothing but The Replacementsthrown into an orgy of electronic beats and synthesizers: if it’s not the perfect balance between modernity and roots, well, we’re pretty close. And if you still aren’t satisfied, check out the Radiohead-like dream fresco of Constant Wavering Between The Real And The Abstract (synthetic apocalypse built on an acoustic guitar riff), the battery loop of a steamroller called Blow It Out, or the piano coda that ends the heart-rending chemical madrigal of I Wanted To Paint A Rainbow.
On top of that, the incredible Sushi (a masterpiece) mixes drumbeats, catchy choruses, and a wall of synthesizers in the most riveting pop-rock anthem of the new millennium. Naked In New York glues fragments from early-eighties new wave into an apotheosis of danceable blazes, and Take It To Heart transports Frank Sinatra’s crooning into a futuristic scenario of cities to come.
“Played” or not, “authentic” or not, Real Blasty’s poetry is based on concepts of dynamism, immediate involvement, cheeky confessional frankness and exuberance, all merging with the unbridled, vital urge of an artist who cannot go a single minute without smashing the audience’s senses. Silicon packaging and bleeding heart, true rocker and not a poser, Kyle Andrews is a picture of determination and a handful of ideas, one of the possible quantum leaps into the future of rock and roll.
Love, fury, and the most creative of laptops. Fundamental.
2009, Real Blasty (Elephant Lady) 8,5
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