A heady melange of delta-blues and rootsy folk music.
James Skinner 2009
Bath quintet Kill It Kid are many things, but first of all: they’re loud. Opener Heaven Never Seemed So Close doesn’t so much tumble from the speakers as it does erupt: handclaps, wailing violins and Zeppelin-sized riffs all jostling for space ‘neath the impassioned twin vocals of Chris Turpin and Stephanie Ward. It makes for a formidable mission statement, indeed.
Second thing: they’ve crafted a remarkable debut album in this self-titled offering. In thrall to a dream of America that never was – or, perhaps might have been some 125 years ago – their heady melange of delta-blues and rootsy folk music is so emphatically relayed that to doubt its veracity would be to miss the point entirely. While contemporaries such as The xx tap into an oddly beautiful minimalism and Wild Beasts deliver with meticulous precision, Kill It Kid throw absolutely everything they have at these songs. It can be overwhelming at times, but for the most part comes off admirably.
Three: the singing. Coming on like an unhinged younger cousin of Antony Hegarty, Turpin positively roars his way through much of the album, his wild, ranging style offset by Ward’s velvet turns. Divisive, certainly, but thoroughly impressive nonetheless – it’s his anguished howl that injects these songs with the sense of high drama they thrive on.
A fourth. What’s with the moniker? Blind Willie McTell is. Sort of, anyway – it’s derived from an old song of his that impressed itself deeply on Turpin. On occasion here they effectively approximate his dusty jams, while the ghost of his finger-picking nous can be felt throughout. Although barely into their 20s, these kinds of influences make perfect sense in the light of Kill It Kid’s music, which exudes a breezy confidence best exemplified on penultimate track, Bye Bye Bird – barbershop breaks and all.
To conclude, then: flawless it’s not, but there’s enough variety, power and barnstorming tunes on here to constitute one of the year’s most appealing and enduring debut albums – one that pays homage to the sound of a bygone era while deftly modernising it.