The New Kids In School

It’s refreshing when a band can take a new view and attack plan to a genre that has become heavily over-saturated. Electronic music, and particularly rock music infused heavily with electronics has become such a mainstay in the middle of the 2010s, it’s unnerving how many bands and artists have keyboard players and drummers that do much more than just…well…drum. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely loved tons of bands who’ve come up during this time period. I gravitate heavily towards some of them. But every time and again, it’s a great feeling when a band can take a new approach to a sound that’s become somewhat the same.

Kye Kye, hailing from Washington state, are the ones I’m talking about. They’ve quietly made a name for themselves after just one album, Young Love. Earlier this month they released their much anticipated follow-up, Fantasize. While Young Love was very percussion-focused, with many of the tracks relying on the groove and beat behind them, Fantasize opens the pallete into a more swift, ethreal sound. Even from the first opening notes of the lead single “Honest Affection”, you can hear the differences between the two albums. While the heavy trance-style beat is as infectious as ever, compared to sessions from Young Love, there’s much more layering and reverb, adding an almost chamber-like feel to the track.

What’s also interesting about Fantasize is the speed of the record, since tracks like “Honest Affection” are the fastest and most appealing cuts on the collection. Piano pieces abound on slower songs like the wub-heavy “People”, and the sprawling nature of such a simplistic cut as “Glass”. The quietest moments feature a light scratching, like that of a vinyl record being played, with Olga’s haunting vocals playing well over the muted silence. The album’s second single “Dreams (2am)” is more of a example of the ethereal, expansive sound Kye Kye has adopted this time around, and Olga’s precious vocals again haunt the listener. Mixing heavily with a deep bass and drum beat, it’s easily one the most brilliant tracks the group has recorded. The cuts come in longer than most on Young Love as well, allowing the more extraneous sounds to come alive.

After the first handful of listens, I wasn’t overall very impressed with Kye Kye’s return. But repeated listens and more time to sit with the album really brought out the best within the album. While it might not be as percussive-laden or fast-feeling as Young Love, it’s still an impressive second album, and definitely not one to be missed. Some might say sophomore slump, but I think this record is a worthy second volume to a band on a sharp rise.

Justin Mabee