Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Innovation is a funny old word. While all music borrows from past invention, some artists borrow rather more than others. Take The Kissaway Trail, the Danish five-piece, whose second album Sleep Mountain packs in more contemporary anthemic indie rock influences into 11 tracks than you'd find on an especially bookish teenager's iPod. Kissaway's 2007 eponymous debut pitched the Danish five-piece as Mercury Rev-esque dreamers with post-rock ambitions, and new single and album opener SDP stretches the blueprint yet further: church bells and thudding guitars meet Wayne Coyne-style vocals about the undefinable nature of "humans in this green livery".
Crikey. Grandiose church bells, [b]‘Keep The Car Running’[/b]-esque riffs, multi-part harmonies… and all in the first track? It’s clear from opener [b]‘SDP’[/b] that Danish epic-popsters [a]The Kissaway Trail[/a] ain’t doing it by halves second time around. But rather than ending up a bombastic mess, [b]‘Sleep Mountain’[/b] knows that the devil is in the detail.
On its release in 2007, the Kissaway Trail's debut album won almost universal comparisons with the Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire. You would think the Danish quintet might have spent the time since honing a more individual sound – and maybe they did, because there is an early version of this album that was discarded entirely. What they're actually releasing is passionate, urgent, full of music that swoops with the geometric elegance of flocking birds, but shows scant evidence of original thinking.
The Kissaway Trail's 2007 self-titled debut album had a nervy energy typical of indie rock traditionalists like British Sea Power and the Shout Out Louds. But while its ideas were hardly groundbreaking, the band at least sounded like it was trying to create, rather than simply emulate. On the Danish quintet's Sleep Mountain, that is hardly the case.
The problem with an artist or scene becoming unexpectedly popular is that in its wake, a host of inferior imitators inevitably spawn. After Nirvana broke through in the early 90s, it appeared that anyone wearing plaid in Seattle could get a record deal. More recently, the success of Britpop led to many a lame duck, and the legacy of Coldplay and (albeit, briefly) Travis going stratospheric at the turn of the Century would appear to be Snow Patrol and similarly pallid “indie” of that ilk.
There’s plenty to fall in love with on an album of such emotional weight. Mike Haydock 2010 It’s been three years since The Kissaway Trail’s beguiling eponymous debut, and in that time the Danes have simplified their sound. Maturity has focused their vision, and this is both good and… not bad as such, just a shame. Sleep Mountain shimmers throughout.