‘I Love You Too, Man’, the new EP from Wollongong band Kitten Heel is sublime. Sweeping waves of synth and driving rhythms underpin cool and studied vocals resulting in a celestial pop release with an edge.
I can detect a number of mostly eighties influences ranging from Cabaret Voltaire and Kraftwerk to more commercial tracks from bands like Gary Numan and Tubeway Army and Depeche Mode. There is a disembodied and louche coolness in the vocals that references New Order.
Whatever the influences and what ever the inherent genetic code that stems from the eighties, the result is spine-chillingly assured synth-pop rock of the highest order.
This is a statuesque EP that is magnificent and bold, innovative and creative – a synth-pop masterpiece.
Opening with the icy ‘Last to Leave’ sets out a clear statement of intention: pure pop imbued with melody and resonance. There is an element of early Simple Minds – a syncopated Euro-disco beat and a driving insistent force:
The fearless nature of the band is illustrated in the half-spoken ‘Nothing Constructive’ with its drilling arpeggiated synth stabs and insistent bass line. A disembodied voice adds an arctic chill and an enigmatic pose.
The accompanying video is fittingly cool:
‘What They’re Having’ is a Kraftwerk-influenced dream with its bubbling synths and mesmerising patterns that repeat and augment. Chilled and studied vocals repeat and circle around – hypnotic rhythms that are immersive.
‘How We Work’ is harsher – fuzzy and gritty with a thumping electro bass – pure eighties dance synth and brim full of attitude.
We reviewed ‘Needs to Go’ earlier this year and wrote that it splashes and circulates like a gargling brook with the vocals that are emotive and infused with a certain melancholic air. I am reminded of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with the merge of arctic instrumentation and the warmth of the vocals, creating an ability to be both distant and enveloping.
This is a brilliant and very exciting EP.
The band will be launching the EP on 21 November 2020 in Sydney – full details here.