Review – Kyle Andrews: Kangaroo [EP, Elephant Lady 2010]
The word of the day is bounce, which stands for bounce (obviously), jump, leap, but also for elasticity; for example the mental and physical one that babies have when they bounce on their parents knees at the rhythm of some nursery rhyme. The unlimited trust that babies have with their parents requires what romantic poets of English naturalism call “suspension of disbelief”. The same element is necessary to connect with the songs and the surreal world of Kyle Andrews, where one reacts to life’s wrong turns “bouncing like kangaroos” and love declarations are sung right in the middle of a water balloon fight (12,000 water balloons, 4,000 people).
Andrew’s new EP, Kangaroo, is a masterpiece of imagination, surrealism and irony. And if irony can be measured in the relation between the hypothetical and the real meaning of an expression, Andrews is a real master, because he’s always capable of letting a thin, sharp melancholy slip through the curtains of phantasmagoric synth-pop frescos (dressed up with optimism and happiness). And vice versa.
However, the world of Kyle Andrews is not merely dreamlike or imaginary, rather it’s an alternate, parallel universe to everyday life. The rag rabbit on the front cover states it clearly while discovering a heart with a built in cell phone with “lonely not” written on it (the point is always the escape from loneliness). This little fresco made of seams and buttons could be compared to both the illustrations produced by Dave McKean for Coraline (Neil Gaiman, 2004) and the handmade dreams of The Science Of Sleep (Michel Gondry, 2006): two different worlds that fit perfectly with Kyle Andrew’s poetry. The front cover image is so oneiric that is almost impossible to understand if we should read it with tons of irony or with any irony at all (and that’s intriguing). Is it liberatingly childish or possibly a dramatic allegory of a society unable to communicate? Maybe both, because the songs refuse to help solve the mystery: the intertwining of acoustic riffs, fat beats and handclaps of the overwhelming You Always Make Me Smile (reprised in an hyper-electronic mix, dense and sharp) uses the nonsense of the lyrics in order to create a mood of frustrated expectations that comes across like the poetry of Samuel Beckett, and the same happens with the title track (electro-pop at his best).
Even the remix of Sushi (the opening track of Real Blasty [‘09]) plays with pauses, breaks and suspensions with a certain restlessness (“You Gonna Save Me Or Not?” is a question with, obviously, no answer). The Slow Dancing At The Prom Mix treatment makes it even more dark and solemn despite the irresistible melody. Lov3r frames two lovers confessing they don’t know where they’re heading to, throwing the sentimental disorder in a beautiful Stereolab-esque version of Bo Diddley’s rhythmic witchcrafts. In the end, just to mix up things a little bit more, we have the silent despair of the marvelous Don’t Feel Left Out; a whisper of echoes and desolations between country-rock and Radiohead’s atmospheres.
In his 2011 State of The Union address, President Barack Obama, recalling the levels of research and growth reached by his country during the Space Race era, described this one we’re living as “a Sputnik Moment for the USA”: the moment when everybody should work together in order to build a future. I’m no President of anything and my homeland’s half the size of Texas, but I’ll dare stealing Obama’s line to bet on the fact that, if humanity will not lose its heart or hearing, Kyle Andrews – no doubt about it – will be remembered as the “Sputnik-musician” of these years.
2010, Kangaroo (EP, Elephant Lady Records) 9
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