Mount Kimbie’s debut, Crooks and Lovers, was a bedroom phenomenon, two likely lads bursting out of their den with a fusillade of delicious, crunching, popping melancholy beats. It was the sound of the 2010 London summer which, co-incidentally or otherwise, was also Britain’s last decent summer. Maybe Mount Kimbie’s new, much-anticipated record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth tells us something about the gorgeous, heatwave, carefree months to come… maybe.
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, for which the band has signed to Warp, has already received plenty of acclaim and attention. The transition from first timers to established, scene-defining dance-dub pioneers is fraught with risk. Dominic Marker and Kai Campos have a lot more to lose with a reputation to maintain, but Crooks and Lovers was defined by a clear sense that the two of them knew precisely what they were doing. Cold Spring is a very different album, but it maintains the assurance that made Mount Kimbie seem instantly familiar. It does so while introducing a whole range of innovations which, at first listen, come as a surprise. There are vocals! There’s rapping! There are choruses, conventional song-structures and possibly some pop! What are everyone’s favourite urban minimalists up to?
The key track is ‘Made to Stray’, uploaded earlier in the year by the band to general excitement. It begins with a military tabla beat, hand claps and apparently a bumble bee on kazoo – recognisably Mount Kimbie, but extra-danceable. Then vocals kick in – Marker and Campos singing “Made to stray around rough coasts / when grace is close to home.” Their voices sound the way you would hope – distinctive but unmannered – and the lyrics are surprisingly subtle. The new plan works!
A strong, confident sound defines Cold Spring, with every track recognisably a progression from the Crooks and Lovers sound but also bold and new. So Many Times, So Many Ways spins around two forlorn and lovely bass riffs; Lie Near is a ebbing and flowing tide of static and popcorn explosions; Break Well takes airy keyboard squeals and transforms them into a thumping pop instrumental, as though planting a foot cheekily on Daft Punk’s freshly mown front lawn. Blood and Form is a ‘proper’ song, but filtered through the Mount Kimbie sensibility, which seems to leave it leaking through a transistor radio on a sweltering day, stuck in a groove of oppressive beats and queasy lyrics: “True to blood and form / these mistakes I get paid for”.
Moving furthest into new territory, two tracks feature the lugubrious, barbiturate rapping of King Krule – You Took Your Time and Meter, Pale, Tone – both threatening and alluring with rattling beats. Skinny, 19-year old, ginger kid Archy Marshall is the very unexpected reality behind the King Krule alter ego. He raps like an RZA who has seen a lot more disappointment in his life, and his appearance on the album adds an inspired new dimension.
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth is an album with depth and invention, and it is also a lot of fun. It is the sound of inspired musicians getting better fast, and if that’s not exciting then what is? Listen to this and have confidence that the cold spring has been dealt with and summer will come.