“Change is hard, but I need a change of heart.”
Music is a highly personable thing, and how it can make a person think and feel is solely on them. Music can be that friend at 3am when you cannot sleep- at the moment, that’s what I’ve been leaning towards. Sleep doesn’t hang around anymore, and I don’t blame it. So with that, it means I can write about a record that I have been SO excited to hear. I did want to wait until next Friday to do so, but I’m inpatient at times and gave in to the preview. From first seeing play drums in Grand Ole Party to hearing Catholicked for the first time to being awe of the beauty in Coming Down; Kristin has been nothing short of a musical heroine of mine. Her way with words to how she creates songs is mind blowing, and as Kristin Kontrol, she has gone and done it again.
The record starts with the easy grooves of Show Me. A song that requires a person wanting more from another and wanting to give said person more of you. With its slick Sade tones, this song is the perfect opener to this gorgeous record. It’s a song full of reassurance and beauty. The repeating of “There’s no need to change yourself” is just gorgeous. We all need to hear that from time to time.
Next up is White Street. This would sound perfect on the New Jack City soundtrack. It’s got a real 80s New York feel to it, and where some use the 80s an influence and clearly do it wrong- Kristin does it in a way that makes you feel like you are with her in the song. She makes you feel like you’re with her on White Street. The production on this is so so great and makes you feel like you’re in some 80s NYC cop film. This is one of those songs that fill you with an untouchable attitude, you slip into the song and it becomes you.
(Don’t) Wannabe and X-Communicate follow up. I think my feelings towards X-Communicate are pretty clear. I played it 3 times when I had my gig night the other week, I’m ALWAYS listening to it and the words are so brilliant. You can take whatever you want from it. Give up or don’t. But always ALWAYS stick to your decision. The line, “Do I still posses you? Forever and ever. Amen” is up there with the best I’ve heard this year. Sometimes you just want to drape that thought across someone. In either a curious or power-tripping kind of way. Both are fine, and I guess one will always lead to the other.
Many treat “Pop” as a dirty word, as if it isn’t “cool” to make Pop music. That kind of attitude causes minds to be small and record collections to be even smaller. I honestly have no idea what category to put X-Communicate in nor do I want to, it’s one of those records that takes pieces from all over and the end result is a body of sheer joy and genius. Prior to listening to Kristin’s record, I spent a few days listening to nothing but Dum Dum Girls to really understand what she was doing any why she had to do it. It’s pretty obvious why. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you feel trapped- as if your mind is restricted. I absolutely adore the bones of what she did with Dum Dum Girls, and when I need certain songs they will be there. But on X-Communicate you see/hear another side. This side sounds braver and bigger. X-Communicate is such a powerful record from start to finish, and if you’re going to take anything from it- let it be the fact that you don’t have to keep at something in order to be heard. Change. Change as much as you can, be scared, be a mess but whatever happens- take it.
There are songs on the record that will break your heart such as (Don’t) Wannabe and What Is Love. What Is Love will break you. Or maybe that’s just me being overly sensitive. If it doesn’t cut through you in anyway, then you’re tougher than me. And let’s be honest, it really doesn’t take much. The words are so beautiful, so honest and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to listen to this without bawling like a baby anytime soon. We slide gently into Face 2 Face which is such a prolific track, and easily one of the many stand out points on the record. Something I’ve always loved about Kristin’s voice is that is sounds nothing like anything else I’ve ever heard, but you always know it is her. She’s got this ability to take you to crazy places with her vocal range. The way she sings the hook on X-Communicate to the gentle tones on What Is Love just leave you in awe. I think because her voice is so gentle and so soothing, you truly connect with the lyrics more compared to if she had a gruff voice. The gentleness and the openness is what lures you in, and keeps you there.
Going Thru The Motions is probably one of my favourites, lyrically. I do try my best to distance myself from music when I write about it compared to when I listen to it. It’s pretty tough, especially being a fan so I just stopped trying and stayed being a fan. Going Thru The Motions is one of those songs that just resonate with you, regardless of how you feel. You can be completely tough but there are songs on this record that will break you down more than any person could.
The record comes to an end with the euphoric Smoke Rings which reminds me a little of Tamaryn.Every song on this record fits perfectly into each other. The order of songs is just gorgeous and Smoke Rings is the perfect song to end this record on. It leaves you pressing repeat on Smoke Rings one more time, then you go right back to the start. There are moments on this record where you will have a cry but there are moments where you’ll want to flail your limbs about in time to the music. Maybe you’ll do it all at once. This is a record to fall out and in love to. It’ll heal you, even if you thought you didn’t need it.
What I love about X-Communicate is how much heart, soul and passion is in it. You can easily sense how much work and devotion has gone into this record, but at the same time Kristin just makes it seem so easy. Her words are pure poetry for the soul, and people with this kind of talent aren’t everywhere. I do still stand by she’s my generation’s Patti Smith. Her way with words is careful but not precious. Honest but not brutal.
If you’re looking for a record that’s going to take you somewhere sacred and make you feel things you didn’t know you could, then you know what you need to do this Friday (27th May.) Even in my non-biased opinion, this is truly one of the best records of the year. It’s in my top 2. My number 1? Wait for September/October and I’ll tell you.
X-Communicate will be released via Sub Pop.