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New Music: Kindness
October 19, 2014
After several listens of this album it is hard not to say that I am hooked. With its jazzy baselines, melodic vocals and rhythmic beats, this is an album for the Palo Alto watching generation of perfectly quaffed alt pop listeners. It wouldn’t be surprising to find it comfortably nestled between the vinyls and Polaroid cameras in an Urban Outfitters store.
Recorded over two years up and down America’s coasts with stops off in New York and New Orleans, this second creation from Kindness – British born musician Adam Bainbridge – pays homage to a collection of different genres, taking an alternative pop route, influenced by ‘80s disco, house, r&b, soul and jazz music.
After his debut in 2012 with ‘World, You Need A Change Of Mind’, it could be seen that Kindness was one to watch. His influences reigned through with abundance, but he had not developed a distinct style. It is with ‘Otherness’ that Bainbridge truly makes his mark.
Released on October 13th on Female Energy Records, he described the record like, “having a child, often tired and emotional but incredibly rewarding and worth every minute”. In a collaborative process unlike his first album, he worked with artists such as Devonté Hynes, Robyn, Kelela and rising UK star Tawiah to name a few. Experimenting with all of their input together creates the musical uniqueness that is ‘Otherness’.
Each track transcends a specific genre to bring new light to the album. The haunting vocals of Robyn in the track ‘Who Do You Love’ are executed impeccably, carrying the song which is underpinned by slow thumping beats. In ‘With You’, Kelela brings her soulful vocals which work playfully with the jazzy saxophone playing of Finn Peters that underlines it.
‘Why Don’t You Love Me’, a merger of the vocal talent of Bainbridge, Hynes and Tawiah, is a slowed down, synthy ‘80s pop record with ringings of Bat for Lashes and The XX. It feels stripped back at points, bringing through the rawness of the vocals. The harmonies of the three voices with a rhythmic section that is carried throughout the album creates depth and energy.
A true fork in the road is ‘8th Wonder’ featuring Ghanaian rapper and songwriter M.anifest. His hip hop twist brings a new edge which is rivalled on the same track by a harp solo. The conflicting use of styles is a running theme for ‘Otherness’ and works slickly and effectively in the mix.
With a headline show coming up on the 16th of November at the Electric Brixton, Kindness is an artist worth keeping an eye on. As Robyn sings on the track ‘Who do you Love’ – “Don’t let the noise confuse you” – this mishmash of musical talent and sound makes for something very special. A benchmark for alternative pop music in 2014.
Lauren E. Hewitt