Kid Silver

Dead City Sunbeams

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Following the failure of Rollerskate Skinny, Ken Griffin reemerged solo with the alias Kid Silver and a lush, gorgeous debut album, Dead City Sunbeams on Jetset Records that veered somewhat left of his former band. The album is essentially full of songs that could have been composed on the acoustic guitar or piano, but that is not how they remained. Somewhere along the way bass, keyboards, background vocals, samples, and sequenced drum loops were layered on, as well as a bit of orchestration, so that the album is far more than a troubadour's record. Instead, Dead City Sunbeams is epic, theatrical, broad-sweeping, and kaleidoscopic in scope while retaining an exuberant warmth and romanticism that revels in its pop obliviousness. The melodies are inspired and infectious without coming even remotely close to saccharine. What the songs are, however, is eccentric in every good way. Griffin is twisted in the same way that Brian Wilson, Kevin Ayers, and Mercury Rev are twisted: they seem somehow innocent and sophisticated at the same time, and are obviously touched by a bit of genius. And the music of Kid Silver is expansive in the manner of David Bowie, U2, and Tears for Fears. It stretches out to encompass everything from orchestral pop to nerdy psychedelia to film and ethnic music, but is all of the same mind and has the same focus. Griffin moves effortlessly from edgy, cinematic noir à la Barry Adamson on "67 Cities of Light" and "Devils and Demons," to gamelan-flavored hybrids like "Punchdrunk Sweethearts," touched by hyperdrive drum'n'bass, and "Breadcrumbs," which dips into the ethnic bag of instrumentation but pulls off an upbeat, unself-conscious pop melody. Nestled snugly inside the music is Griffin's resonant voice, which affects the growl of Mark Lanegan minus the whiskey-soaked rasp. Something special went into the creation of this record. Like the title track that builds to a gospel-pitched intensity, Dead City Sunbeams is one for the ages.

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