TWIST THE LENS
LP / CD / DL
Out 14 February 2020
Kansas rockers Pedaljets return with what just may be their best album to date.
On their new record, Kansas’ Pedaljets are firing on all cylinders and pulling in a more varied range of styles than they had previously done. They kick things off with lead single, Disassociation Blues, an almost Interpol-like rocker that drives along over pounding sparse drum beats. The vocals yearn over the top before they rise up at the end of the verses to sprout with more urgency. The harmonies sit just behind the cranked guitars, gliding along underneath to add to the overall sound of a band that are, once again, really hitting the ground running. However, on Twist The Lens, the moments that really stand out are those where the band take a left turn from the pulsing rock to bring something altogether more wistful.
Songs like Placid City Girl, which drops early in the record, recall the sounds of The Jacobites blended with the rambling melodies of early REM. It’s a hue on the record that really stands out, and makes the difference when sandwiched between the rockier tracks. The band still draw on their early contemporaries such as The Replacements on songs like Uncounted Heads and Loved A Stone, filtered through their new palette, but once again, it’s those that step out of this zone that really make the mark. Transfer Is Done recalls Grandaddy’s Crystal Lake with subtle pucked guitar notes rising out from the loping rhythm. On This Is Sepsis they really crank up the drama in a dark Cramps homage. While it’s a good tune, it feels a bit like an outsider on the album as a whole, but the band soon fall back on track with One Away.
The title track, which leads the final quarter of the album, is one of the highlights. The guitars jut and spit to create a groove that recalls earlier Arcade Fire when they themselves were drawing on the jagged post-punk rhythms of bands like Pedaljets. The penultimate song, What Only Cats Chase, a Beatles-influenced acoustic number, would have made the perfect album closer. It’s brittle and lamenting. An added string section creates the swirling underbelly that draws you in more and more. Instead of closing out the album, the band prefer to bring back the rock with The Fader. A great song, but its placing overshadows the previous song and make you feel like the album is ramping up once again, just before it ends. A slight twist of the order would have made all the difference to the end of what is ultimately a fantastic return for the band.
Watch the video for Disassociation Blues below:
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All words by Nathan Whittle. Find his Louder Than War archive here.