Published Jul 05, 2017This Is the Kit is a band led by Kate Stables with a fluid community of collaborators, including Aaron Dessner (the National), and John Parish (longtime PJ Harvey producer). Band members Jamie Whitby-Coles, Rozi Plain, Neil Smith and Jesse D. Vernon have been around for at least an album or two (and many shows), and the collective chemistry is conveyed strongly.
The record opens with delicate drumming from Whitby-Coles, before a polyrhythmic but tightly interlocking banjo part enters; the rest gradually builds without any single element taking over or feeling out of place. The musical cohesion very tastefully supports Stables' soothing voice and entrancing songwriting.
"Hotter Colder" uses a rollicking, rough-and-tumble feel to enhance Stables' lyrics about listening to her conscience or soul, making the guidance seeming chaotic and "clumsy": "Fragile sanity," she sings, "you're treating us so roughly." The rambunctious saxophone solo at the end seems to suggest that chaos can be fun too.
In press material for the first single, "Moonshine Freeze," Stables described how the titular children's song/game "hooked into her and sent her brain into spirals" and this song does exactly that with its lyrics ("Cycles of three, triangles are tricky") and overlapping vocals about halfway through.
One lyrical misstep in "By My Demon Eye" (the use of the ethnic slur "gypsy") disrupts Stables' otherwise charming lyrics, but otherwise, Moonshine Freeze is a uniquely woven tapestry of captivating beauty. (Rough Trade)