April 22, 2024

Kiwi Jr. – “Cooler Returns” – perky playful pop to unlock the lockdown

SUB POP RECORDS 22nd Jan 2021

Charming chiming indie / DIY carries chippy sardonic lyrics through twists and turns in a bravado display of pop chutzpah.

What can I add to that? Toronto’s Kiwi Jr. seems to be mining a seem of deceptive simplicity. Tunes and riffs seem simple but are full of flips and switches. Lyrics cover the gamut of everyday life and it’s frustrations. There is a sense of place and telling of tales that hints at The Hold Steady, whilst a deprecating humility to the narrative is distinctive to a certain sort of Canuck.

I didn’t hear last year’s debut so I have no idea if this is a development but it feels like a band with a lot of collective experience under the collective belts yet channelling a kind of 1979 pub-rock directness. A down at heel street trip hits a darkly ironic sense of humour, smiling wryly at human folly while skipping along like a band in love with the energy of being alive. My favourite moment might be Omaha, wrapping in some conspiracy theory (how contemporary….), “there’s no proof that Woodstock ever happened”.

This is an album that sounds fun on first listen and the hooks keep digging deeper on each replay. If you have ever enjoyed The Hold Steady, Joe Jackson, Richard Hell, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman or REM, you’ll find something you like here. I’ve been waiting for a slice of aural sunlight to shine a route to a new and vital world. This is it.

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