Editor's Rating

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.

8.6
Viscera Arts/TY4 Records

‘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.

‘I Love You Too, Man’ is out now through Viscera Arts/TY4 Records – you can order it here.

The band will be launching the EP on 21 November 2020 in Sydney – full details here.