Kissing Book


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(s) Review

by Stephen Cramer

On (s), Portland, OR's Kissing Book toned down the majestic and festive indie pop sound that won the band critical acclaim for their 1999 debut, Lines and Color. Andrew Kaffer's gentle vocals lead the pace on the first two tracks, "Hey Kids" and "Selfish." Kaffer's sincere lead vocal had always been at the forefront of the band's song, but with the laid-back instrumental approach on (s), his vocals began to stand out in a new way. The jazzy "Set of Numbers" is followed by the tender tones on "Of Nativity." On "Your Melancholy Ways," Kaffer thoughtfully croons a sobering set of somber lyrics over the band's increasingly inventive instrumentation. The resonant instrumental "Another Set of Numbers" includes Ryan Wise on clarinet. The disc ends with the marriage of one song to another, with the haunting "Natural Raft" starting off the last track, followed by the bright and soft "Don't Forget Me." The band's startling metamorphosis was orchestrated by Kaffer, Adam Bayer, and Drew Cramer. A healthy amount of guest musicians add texture to the trio's groundbreaking recordings on (s).

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