Kim

Radio Dub

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Kim (no last name) had been releasing recordings for four years prior to the appearance of this 30-song double-CD at the end of 1998. It was the fifth album from this singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Bordeaux, France. His prolific output (he has released more since then) doesn't seem to have gotten the slightest notice in English-speaking lands, although he (at least on this album) sings in English. He's a pop/rock auteur, playing all the instruments and doing all the singing and sampling on this epic, in the mold of prodigies from the superstars (Stevie Wonder, Prince, Todd Rundgren) to the lo-fis (Stephin Merritt, R. Stevie Moore). Like a lot of such one-man wonders, he's a bit of a stylistic dilettante, flitting from acoustic folk-rock, symphonic ambience, and confessional Brian Wilson-esque piano ballads to dance tunes with echoes of new wave and synth-pop. And like a lot of these one-man wonders, despite the facility with all manner of technological trickery and instruments, at heart he's a pop tunesmith. The French accent on his vocals is a little too strong to be called "slight," though there's no trouble comprehending him; he overdubs backing vocals on top of himself deftly, often sounding as if he's dueting with a woman (though in fact he's singing with himself). He sounds a lot like a fey, more indie-oriented (and occasionally slightly off-key) Ray Davies for much of the time, which is a pretty good icon to get compared to, though he's not in Davies' (or for that matter Merritt's) class. Still, his wistful and attractive tunes don't lack guts. There's a lot to chew on here for indie pop fans that don't buy into lo-fi wunderkinds that are too slickly power pop, or too detached and self-consciously clever.