Some musical worlds are easily entered. The door doesn’t stick. The stuff beyond is pleasant, dynamic though not to the point of overburdening those that hear it. Getting there—maybe even wanting to hang around—is as simple as closing eyes and opening ears. The lush, ten-tune landscape of emotional terraforming that is Leicestershire Electro-Pop trio Kyte’s fourth LP, “Love to Be Lost”, is one such place. There is a sound of sunny weather in even the most dramatic runs and darkest lyrical phrasings displayed by vocalist Nick Moon’s whispery, accent-colored high tenor and falsetto. The precision grooves and steady percussive textures employed by drummer Scott Hislop ensure that time runs smoothly here. Keyboardist/Guitarist Tom Lowe’s dense layering of sometimes-subtle synth foundation and flowery sonic foliage remind us that though the music may grow wild around us as we listen, the ground beneath is stable and true. Some highlights:
“Scratches” has a strong feminine energy, dancy and full of bass drum punch that is very U2. And, with singer Moon’s aforementioned falsetto, slightly chewed-on enunciation, and a lyric delivery that is nearly hissed, the song takes on the dimensions of something more akin to Dashboard Confessional or Owl City as it progresses.
A cascading synth loop with reversed snare drum is at the core of “Friend of a Friend”. Said loop, computerized in the TRON style now a bit overcooked these days, is equal portions Doogie Howser and The Legend of Zelda themes but made fresh by a mean crescendo of long chorus decorated with discotheque hi-hat sizzle, dirty six-strings, and ooh/ahh vocal harmonies. Kyte’s Shoegaze beginnings returned and tipped way over here.
“You and I”, with its low toms, stick clicks, tambourine, bits of folky acoustic guitar, and synth organ, seemed to speak very pleasantly in voices of R.E.M. or the slow-ballad material offered by early-catalog Foo Fighters (Imagine, if you will, “Losing My Religion” meeting “Walking After You” from the Foos’ “The Colour and the Shape”).
Voluptuous, John Bonham-sounding pocket drum grooves, delayed piano, complex syncopated programming, and whipcrack-styled hand claps make “Almost Life” into a Coldplay-esque modern hymn that is quite literally soundtrack worthy.
Vangelis and The Postal Service come together on “Every Nightmare”, an epic, bouncy jaunt of swelling keys and ocean waves of static built between falsetto harmonies, plucked strings and glockenspiels synths. This one finds closure with a sexy 8-bit synth outro into a patch of white noise and sudden silence—lovely and bad-ass all at once.
“September 5th” an eerie, deeply permeating instrumental of interwoven piano melodies and countermelodies spiked with a rising, tap-to-boom quarter-note bass drum, was a huge stand-out that had this listener wondering how powerful these songs might be without vocal accompaniment.
“Aerials” is a quirky, fittingly bright-and-airy reminiscence bordering on 30 Seconds to Mars that merges creatively an accordion/harmonica loop, reverb-heavy guitar texture, a slow-Samba drum rhythm, and upbeat guitar-and-calliope-synth verses.
Album-closer “Half-Alone” is also “Love to Be Lost’s” most satisfying nugget, a kind of “Brat Pack 2000”. Moon’s plot twist of unexpected break-up mingled with heavy synth, glassy guitar runs and trusty hand-clap snare hits create a very comfortable-but-energetic number like something wrapped up in that movie that wrings a tear from the most stoic non-crier. It’s not quite yesterday and not quite modern. Turn-of-the-millennium tech meets revisited story song. Constant synth-bass sixteenth-notes walk the length of the whole song and carry Hislop’s funky combo of bass-drum double strokes and off-time hi-hat work toward the album’s most active and distorted guitars and a thrashing of cymbals, keyboards fading out on a single note. John Hughes may have smiled to hear it.
While there’s not a lot of vocal variation here from one track to the next, Moon’s implied moodiness and expressed emotional intensity is unmistakable, and the arrangements from songwriter Lowe are top-notch throughout. Right away, this reviewer came to the conclusion that if many of the New-Wave artists of the 1980s had had access to the level of technology that Indie-Pop and Electro-Pop musicians do today, Kyte would be a strong representation of how those groups might have sounded. Intended or otherwise, it’s difficult not to perceive stylistic nods to The Cure or Simple Minds. Dusted as well with more than a smattering of modern influence, “Love to Be Lost” is just plain listenable. Close your eyes. Open your ears. And…