- by Sean Hewson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-03-13 Label: Invada
The KVB's new album, Of Desire, is music for dancing too while wearing shades in a bedroom with white walls, one mattress, and a light-bulb. Their sound is a very austere mix of the best of three 80s genres - the early goth/post-punk of Joy Division and The Cure, the pre-shoegaze/drone-rock of Spacemen 3 and Loop, and the electronic body music of Nitzer Ebb and Front 242. The KVB are skilled at putting these elements together so, while their sound is very set, they can still cover a lot of ground - from the industrial-techno of 'Awake' to the more funereal/orchestral sounds of Joy Division's Closer, which appear throughout the album.
Often the combinations of sounds are the best things about the tracks. On 'Silent Wave', they have arpeggiated synths, spidery guitar lines and a synth playing the riff from Roxette by Dr Feelgood. On several songs the mix of drum machine, tremolo effects and synth arpeggios make the tracks surprisingly danceable. They can also dig out a hook when they want to. Lower Depths has a big riff/chorus. In Deep and Night Moves start out like Black Sun by Loop and Electricity by Spiritualized respectively but then get subverted by choruses that are almost poppy. Never Enough could almost be a La Roux song. There is, however, quite a bit on Of Desire that is dispensable - the instrumentals Primer and V11393 don't really do much and some songs, like White Walls, are in the nice sounds/no tunes category.
Of Desire is at its best when it takes its influences and pushes them. It can surprise you with a hook, a combinations of sounds or with a techno track. But too often The KVB turn back just when things are getting interesting. The song Unknown is a good example, it's got a wonderful combination of sounds but it's not really going anywhere. However, there's something about the guitar line that totally opens it up. There's another level that they could be taking these songs to but they're not quite making it. There are a few bands operating in a similar territory to The KVB - The Soft Moon, A Place To Bury Strangers, Tropics of Cancer. Bands with great sounds but ordinary songs. There is the odd moment on Of Desire that gives me the hope that The KVB can rise above.