Kiwi Jr: Cooler Returns
Out 22nd January
As they point out on title track Cooler Returns they aren’t American, nor are they, despite the name, from New Zealand. Canada’s Kiwi Jr follow up their debut album (from last January – feels like yesterday!) Football Money, with their second album (their first on Sub Pop). As the title suggests this really is the coolest of returns.
It’s January, it’s miserable outside. Well, to be honest it is miserable inside too. Nowhere to go and heaven forbid turning on the news expecting to hear much joy. That is why you need a bit of Kiwi Jr in your life. Shut out the outside world, turn the volume up and, for a while at least, boost your serotonin levels, let all your troubles wash over you and bathe in the metaphorical sunshine created by the joyous uplifting melodies and witty observational lyrics straight outta Toronto.
Revel in some wryly humorous and often self-deferential lyrics “..strangle the jangle pop band… “ (Nashville Wedding) and copious amounts of astute observations (Undecided Voters) littered across the thirteen songs with a liberal sprinkling of absurdity delivered with unfettered exuberance and sound-tracked by buoyant melodies and wildly effervescent jangly guitars.
Slacker Pop meets Post Punk/indie
Reference points? It’s like US slacker/college pop meets UK post punk and indie with a smattering of folky/Americana influences. Like Pavement or Sebadoh with a smidgeon of flourishes with a likening to Orange Juice (Guilty Party) and The Cribs (Domino). Little components add the texture and the final polish to these nigh on perfect pop-songs, the sweet vocal harmonies and elements such as the harmonica in Maid Marian’s Toast & Only Here for a Haircut and honky tonk-esque piano, specifically on especially on the likes of Dodger and Waiting in Line.
The strange tableaus and visions created by listening to the lyrics aren’t completely off the wall, for example, observations about the current political landscape in the US are scattered though-out but not in any sort of linear way. Don’t worry, nothing overtly political or preachy, the ridiculousness of certain situations is played out perfectly in Jeremy Gaudet’s song-writing style, creating the bizarre but somehow making perfect sense.
From the opening jangly bars of Tyler through to the fading out of Waiting in Line this album is like a party for your eardrums. Living, even just for a short while, in Kiwi Jr’s world is the perfect anecdote to the real world in 2020/21, take a trip there soon. You’ll return much cooler and laid back than before.