The Lexington – October 5th
The ancient cliché that guitar music is in the doldrums has been reanimated in recent years. The furore surrounding the reunification of false prophets The Libertines for the umpteenth time suggests there is nothing new and exciting to froth about. For anyone watching Kid Wave at the Lexington however, guitar music was not only bristling with energy, it was snarling and shimmering majestically, courtesy of the quartet’s enrapturing songs.
Cutting through the Lexington’s smoky gloom with their azure blue choruses and sun-dappled hooks, Kid Wave successfully combine gravelly distortion with euphoric jangling. Lead singer and primary songwriter Lea Emmery cites Wilco and Tom Petty as her main influences, but whether by design or by accident, they are highly reminiscent of bands like Lush and Teenage Fanclub. Live and on record, the comparisons between Kid Wave and grungy shoegazers of the early nineties are undeniable.
Opening with their coarsest track ‘Baby Tiger’, the sheen of their 2015 debut ‘Wonderlust’ is shorn off in favour of mucky riffing, resulting in mixed fortunes. ‘Baby Tiger’ is more vigorous, but ‘Honey’, with its beautifully uplifting chorus, loses some of its grace in the transition from studio to stage. Frustratingly, the backing vocals are muffled by technical gremlins, meaning the likes of ‘All I Want’ don’t dazzle as much as one would wish. Nonetheless, the band interlock seamlessly, their eyes closing in harmony as the music emotionally engulfs the Lexington in a tide of happiness.
Set highlight ‘Best Friend’ showcases the band’s capabilities. The song’s glistening pummel, draped with wistfully melancholic lyrics, epitomises their mixture of light and filth. The crowd respond enthusiastically to every soaring chord, Emmery appearing genuinely overwhelmed by the warm reception. ‘I’m Trying to Break Your Heart’, the band’s next single, is effervescent indie-pop gold showing Emmery’s ability to express lovelorn sentiments in a fresh manner.
Playing with thunderous fervour, the band deliver their album’s guitar pop manifesto expertly. Penultimate track ‘Walk in Fire’ is the only time languidness is courted; the song plumes upwards, reflective and iridescent in equal measure. Set closer ‘Wonderlust’ signs off a brilliant night, Serra Patale’s frenetic drumming and Mattias Bhatt’s crystalline fretwork propelling the song into the stratosphere.
Kid Wave are not instigating radical upheaval in the world of guitar music. They are a force for consolidation, reshaping dormant sounds for people who still believe that guitars can change lives for the better. The relentless rush of ‘Wonderlust’ spits in the face of sluggish ballads their peers specialise in, and joyously so. In a realm where electro-pop demons snare every musical trajectory, Kid Wave are gloriously unfashionable. They comprehensively satisfy the eternal need for a four-piece guitar band with verve and sparkling melodies.