Review By: Oliver Lewis
Assigned By: Jason Whitmore
To steal someone else’s witticism, like Catholicism, being an indie kid is difficult to shake. I had not heard of Little Kid previously and that seems to be down to the fact that they are one of those self-released bands who are doing everything themselves through Bandcamp. No-one cares about being on a major or an indie label anymore, (these days, who cares?) so the real independence is releasing music yourself, for yourself.
Who the hell makes indie music anyway these days? I waded through the landfill indie wars and if I hear one more band that wants to be The Strokes, who only ever really wanted to be every New York band from the 70s anyway (first album still good), I may go full pop. Even more foreboding is an encounter with a review says guitar-wise there is only classical acoustic on the record.
The day Iggy Pop releases an acoustic guitar album is the day that becomes an acceptable idea (I suppose he probably has at some point in some weird mid 00s rebrand). I fear someone gently strumming singing about how miserable they are since they are alone in a log cabin somewhere and most of all posturing about how authentic they are. But then I look at the credits on the album and the bassist is called Paul Vroom. Paul VROOM. Rock and motherfucking Roll may be back on.
I needn’t have worried, throughout they have an admirable love of making the acoustic guitar sound as odd, fuzzy and lovely as possible. It has puzzled me why I have heard so few attempts to replicate Neutral Milk Hotel’s fuzz-folk and this seems to share a little of that DNA if not quite the full-blown commitment. I have a vague memory of a few Pitchfork endorsed post Fleet-Foxes similar types, Hundred Waters for one. The singer has done the only acceptable in indie trade of actual singing ability for earnestness, and I am a sucker for that. I feel almost shocked that this hasn’t been paired with some dream-pop and he isn’t trying to rip off The Postal Service, and I am glad.
Songs end messily, atmospherics abound and unidentifiable waves of sound jostle with the main melody beautifully. A commitment to lo-fi throughout also appeals greatly, I love how when it sinks to some gentle acoustic plucking his singing keeps distorting, cutting against the prettiness. A wave of white noise wonderfully interrupts Missionary in much the same way as in Wilco’s Poor Places. Elsewhere backwards guitar is used as a coda on Nothing That Is Was Ever Meant To Be. Backwards guitar is always good. No exceptions.
If I had another touchstone it would be early Low. They have the same apparent seriousness, and while never sounding as thunderous as Low can be, they have a similar knack for delicacy and a similar one for recording great sounding drums. Lyrically I found it moderately impenetrable if I’m honest, with a definite spiritual theme. I can’t say I took much away from it that way, more the general mood, like a crisis of faith in a beautiful abandoned church.
It clocks in at an ideal 45 minutes despite adding atmospheric outros to pretty much every song, however with only 8 songs certainly seems well edited. The long songs justify it too, no 5-part mini-operas, or plodding endless jams. I will file this between Low, Elliot Smith and Neutral Milk. Not bad company if not quite there yet. If I had any criticisms, I don’t know how much of this I could take, it is terribly earnest in a way I can live with but if the rest of their oeuvre is like this I will want to shake them to cheer up and have a bit of a laugh at some point. More Paul Vroom perhaps.