KaitO

Band Red

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Though it's not quite as immediate as their excellent debut album, You've Seen Us...You Must've Seen Us, KaitO U.K.'s band red delivers more tightly coiled post-punk-pop with shouty vocals and elastic guitars, and also delves deeper into the group's experimental side. While they're considerably cuter-sounding than the like-minded Clinic and Ikara Colt, the band can pack quite a punch, particularly on the opening trio of songs. "Enemyline" punctuates Nikki Colk's high-strung vocals with whooping, hollering, and exclamation-point guitars; "Should I" speeds by on shouted harmonies and a galloping, pogo-ready rhythm; "Try Me Out" employs the same formula a little more quietly, but with no less impact. From there the band explores some of the darker and more unusual corners of their sound, and as good as they are at churning out sugar-buzz punk, their less-conventional songs suggest that they have even more to offer. Hypnotically lovely tracks like "Nothin' New," "Moi," and the vaguely Eastern-inspired album closer "3 am" recall the quieter aspects of influences such as Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth, but also manage to reflect the group's musical growth while staying true to their whimsical beginnings. Likewise, the second half of band red reveals a revamped approach to KaitO U.K.'s louder side. "Think Twice," with its whispered vocals and vertiginous guitars, might be the best and most sophisticated song the band has yet recorded; "A.S.A. to Accuracy" continues the darker, sleeker, slightly paranoid sound, and it suits the band surprisingly well. A transitional record in the best sense, this album doesn't feature as many instantly memorable songs as You've Seen Us...You Must've Seen Us -- but then, that album collected several years' worth of singles and EPs. Instead, band red offers a different kind of excitement: The sound of a good band taking its first few steps toward becoming a possibly great one.

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