Kiwi Jr.: Football Money (2020)

Look, I really want to spend more time with the oldies and goodies, but 2020 is just shaping up to be pretty great already.  (Technically, this was available last year in Canada--the band is based in Toronto--but got wider release just last month.)  And Kiwi Jr.'s debut is not just one of the best albums of the year to date, but one of the best albums I've heard in a long time.

In the decades since Pavement dissolved, a number of bands have been hailed as worthy successors, but Kiwi Jr. is probably the first that really fits in the slot.  The lineage from Malkmus seems pretty clear, though don't let this detract from the originality of the band, which tethers clever lyrics demanding lyric sheets to off-kilter post-90s indie rock that is equal parst oddball chord progressions and engaging R.E.M. jangle.  The album also liberally borrows from the skewed garage rock of New Zealand bands like the Clean and the Verlaines.  

I'll note that this wasn't all infectious on first listen; I previewed a copy and thought it was mostly just pretty good.  But one listen in the car, windows down and volume up, and my jaw was on the floor.  So give it a chance.

A few tunes are insanely great right out of the gate.  "Leslie" is an insistent anthem that calls to mind Blur in the call-and-response vocals; "Gimme More" has another round of anthemic retro-sounding power pop shout-outs from the band, with a simple two-chord barreling riff (and makes the Pavement vibe more direct with a bit of a lift from "Box Elder").  "Football Money" is at first glance Weezer-ish alt.rock, but keeps darting out in weird directions lyrically and musically, Young Fresh Fellows-styled playfulness; "Nothing Changes" is a bit more pop, but again sent askew by the healthy shot of unpredictability; "Swimming Pool" calls to mind the jangly college radio guitar rock of the 80s.

But even the more slow-burning and eccentric stuff, like jangly opener "Murder in the Cathedral" and Malkmus-by-way-of-the-Clean "Salary Man," is incredibly winning.  (Only the weird dirge "Soft Water Apple" in the album's center merits skipping, and it's barely a minute long.)

Anyway, run don't walk over to Bandcamp and get yourself a copy.  

Here's the video for "Leslie":
...and the (fabulous!) video for "Salary Man":
 ...and another video, for "Gimme More" (and the fact that a brand new band has three official, polished videos for its debut album shows their label recognizes they've got a serious monster on their hands):
 

Comments

  1. Very good stuff, thanks for the rec.
    This is humanfund and unknown btw, finally figured the sign in thing. Anyway, totally get the Pavement influence, but was listening to Salary Man and, took me a while to think of the name, but definitely some early Lloyd Cole in there, eg. Perfect Skin. But like all really good bands this one wears its influences lightly.

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  2. Always good to see some new stuff represented here. And yes, this is definitely good stuff! Yes, these guys must have a few Pavement and early NZ pop records in their collective collections. Their tunes also remind me of Urusei Yatsura. Remember those guys? Kewpies Like Watermelon?

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