KALBELLS are one of those fun, creative side gigs, an adjunct to another band which, having animated with the spark of lifeforce, has gained a vitality all of its own.
The band was conceived as a little place for Kalmia Traver to shake a solo thang, outside of the cute-as, lo-fi Brooklyn pop outfit Rubblebucket (I mean check “Fruity” – makes you remember summer, right? Like there is actually even a thing called summer, which is hard to remember as January gnashes on).
Initially, Kalbells served as purely a solo outlet for a more ambient wonk-pop, if you will; an album, Ten Flowers, came out in 2017, full of untrammelled, under-the-covers melodic fun, breezy and intelligent pop that would blow bubbles in the park downtown just cos that’s an excellent and fun thing to do, you just know it.
Three and a weeny bit years on, the line-up of Kalbells has settled as a quartet of Kalmia), Zoë Brecher (of Philly’s Sad13), Sarah Pedinotti (aka Brooklyn pop experimentress LipTalk) and Angelica Bess (of Connecticut’s Body Language). There’s a hell of a family tree to be drawn here.
What’s much more important than genealogy is that Kalbells have been busy bees in the studio, retreating upstate to the Catskills to lay down the ten tracks for what would become their second album, Max Heart, which they’re opening the gates on today with the astral psychedelic funk brilliance of “Purplepink”, which we’ve embedded for you below.
The song displays Kalmia’s synaesthesic, visual approach to songcraft to max effect; it’s a tune wherein a lake turns into a “floating slice of angel cake.”
“I feel like the visual for me is really generative,” she says. “That’s just a way to get me talking about my feelings more.
“I think it can be hard to talk about your feelings. The little visual things are little entry points.”
And on top of that, it showcases their jammin’ groove: “When we play grooves together it’s like some spiritual experience. It’s really empowering,” Kalmia confirms. “I think, there’s an unspoken thing that women don’t groove.
“That men groove and women are the singers and that our groove would be not viable or not as cool … [ but] once we’re all together it’s like frickin’ sparks fly.”
And sparks are certainly frickin’ flying on “Purplepink”, a track which seems to pull waaay into warp speed with that electro-psych blueprint laid out by Tame Impala and suchlike, and leaves ’em choking on astral dust.
The video takes that glittery-eyed aceness and transposes it into a rightfully trippy world of animated rocket ships and warrior space queens, and ends with the summoning of a hologram of Maddie Rice, of Jon Batiste’s Stay Human (the house band for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert) shredding away.
With a need to escape Planet Earth like never before, make sure you’ve got a boarding pass for Max Heart: it’s available to pre-order now over at Bandcamp, It’s out on March 26th on digital, CD, trad black and limited edition salty pickle-green vinyl.