So, 2008 is yet to take real shape. The possibilities stretch before us, unknown. How apt, then, that the first CD I get to review is by a band I know nothing about and have never heard of.
The opening gambit on this (seemingly untitled) seven-track CD by Leicestershire's Kyte is something of a statement of intent - beautiful chiming guitars, pop sensibilities and a hint of the widescreen ambition of Sigur Ros. Impassioned, slightly distorted vocals (properly sung, not shouted) and repeated arpeggios build in a rather lovely way. Washes of delay and a keyboard denoument provide the perfect comedown to the crashing crescendo. Clocking in at over seven minutes, it's maybe a bit long for the pop purist but not perhaps long enough for the *cough* post-rock enthusiast, but suspend your disbelief, kids. Just jump in and enjoy it. There's melody, there's scale, there's emotion, there's beauty, there's craft, and there's a thoughtfulness to it that makes it a very, very good listen.
Second track 'Boundaries' begins with a guitar arpeggio, some very airy, subtle synth, and a vocal that reminds these ears of Deathcab for Cutie/The Postal Service. There's reverb on the drums, and a beautifully layered approach to the instrumentation. The underpinning bass throbs in just the right way, and rather wonderfully, it makes its point and leaves. In other hands, it might hang around a lot longer and be a lot duller as a result. 'Savvy' is a word that springs to mind. 'Secular Ventures' begins with an ungainly drum beat and synth bursts before waking into almost Stars-like vocal harmony life, with added twinkles.
'Sunlight' is a highlight. Odd backwards noises and distorted synths give way to a gorgeous piano part and breathy vocals. The chorus sounds almost like 'Better Be Heaven' by Stars out on the (relative) piss in Reykjavik. The quiet sections are full of a vague hiss; the louder sections very pretty indeed. 'Home' has the feel of an exercise in which things repeat against themselves and each other, and the effect is mesmerising in a daft way. Again, it doesn't hang around too long, and leaves just before it might have to start thinking about doing something else..
The electronic beginning of 'They Won't Sleep' gives way to a very pretty riff involving piano and an (I think) acoustic bass, and some more widescreen synths. It's really rather good, layered and measured. There's no percussion until nearly a minute and a half in, but there's plenty of rhythm in there. It's a song that you know is going to get bigger at some point, and it does: in a shade under seven minutes, of which the last forty seconds is largely taken up by a 'Who Can Fizz The Most?' contest between a synth and a guitar. Who wins? Join us next week ...
'These Tales Of Our Sleep' is even longer, weighing in at nearly nine tons. I've an instinctive dislike of songs that begin with traffic and birdsong, but hey! If you're going to go long you might as well indulge yourselves. And they do, hurling instruments at the beast with almost wanton abandon. I think it's only justly described as 'epic' because of its length.
There's some very pretty music on this album. Somewhere within Kyte there are actually two Kytes. One's a decent Canadian pop outfit, and the other is a group of earnestly bearded young men from Northern Europe recording in an amphitheatre built entirely out of wood. Intriguing. Best thing to come out of Leicestershire since Prolapse? Hmmmm.