Kissing Book formed in the late '90s in Portland, OR. Led by singer/guitarist Andrew Kaffer, the tender and charismatic indie pop group released the startling debut Lines & Color in 1999 on Magic Marker Records. Jen Sbragia of the Softies provided support on vocals and guitar, while drummer Mike Kaffer and bassist Phil Kim rounded out the band's early lineup. Recorded with the Minders' Martyn Leaper, the album was an instant hit on American college radio, and garnered the band worldwide acclaim. Its colorful sound included clarinet, saxophone, keyboards, shakers, and handclaps, proving that the indie pop scene was more than guitar, bass, drums, and quirky lyrics.
The follow-up, 2001's (s), found a band in transition, as the album was markedly softer and darker than its predecessor. The disc also represented the band's second era, as the lineup changed dramatically. Ex-Mooney Suzuki/I Live the Life of a Movie Star Secret Hideout drummer/singer Adam Bayer was added to the group along with bassist Drew Cramer; this lineup change and the use of a jazzy Wurlitzer organ throughout the disc created a radically different album. Recorded with Rocketship's Dustin Reske, (s) was a pleasant surprise for listeners who had grown accustomed to the otherwise predictable fare of indie rock at the time.