Mount Kimbie, ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’ – Album Review
Mount Kimbie arrived with the post-dubstep (a short-lived descriptor) class of 2010, along with the likes of Parish and James Blake. Their full-length debut for Scuba’s Hotflush imprint, 'Crooks & Lovers,' split the difference between experimental woodblock strains of U.K. bass and skeletal dance-floor garage and dubstep. Their sound was organic and minimal, even in a time when dubstep (still mostly cloistered within the confines of the British Isles) was measured by the amount of negative space producers flooded their tracks with. Three years later, it feels like 'Crooks & Lovers' belongs to a bygone era, making it the perfect time for Mount Kimbie’s return.
The duo’s sophomore LP, 'Cold Spring Fault Less Youth,' is being released on British electronic titan Warp, and it’s a much different record than 'Crooks & Lovers.' 'CSFLY' is a lusher and smoother affair, its edges rounded and polished. It has an almost lounge-y atmosphere, with its downbeat synths and organs, drum-kit percussion, complacent BPMs and focus on live vocals. British young gun King Krule, even shows up on two (three if you count the samples on 'Break Wall') of the 11 cuts. It’s an unfussy and comfortable, if at times directionless, release content to languish in its own skin, perfect for a lazy afternoon listen.
Mount Kimbie have talked about how they wanted to construct an album that would translate gracefully to the stage, so it’s no surprise 'CSFLY' sometimes sounds like a full-band recording in a studio. 'You Took Your Time,' one of the songs featuring King Krule, is filled with leathery guitar plucks, sumptuous bass lines, out-of-the-way organ melodies and a whole sack of delicious drum fills. The track’s strongest moment comes when Krule’s hound-dog baritone gets brash while the drums descend into some splashy cymbal tapping.
But the duo isn't afraid to get back to basics with songs like 'Made to Stray,' which work as well on the dance floor and as they do as home listening. The track is a slow build around a fluttering, compressed synth loop and a stuttering, woodpecker snare. It’s not until a little past the two-minute mark that the vocals slide in, giving the track a dreary pulse. 'Lie Near' is a lush stew of brassy synths and echoing percussion. And 'Sullen Ground' is riddled with bony percussion and classic grey-cast London atmospherics.
'CSFLY' is at its best on tracks like ‘Home Recording,’ ‘So Many Times, So Many Ways’ and the two King Krule tracks where it seems like Mount Kimbie is honing in on a more unified sound. The record isn't exactly disjointed -- just a little unfocused and ill-defined at times, perhaps. It feels like the duo approaches each track one at a time, and the record lacks a through-line because of it. While tracks like 'Slow' and 'Blood and Form' work in their own right, they feel like they belong elsewhere. Mount Kimbie are impeccable producers, and they certainly aren’t lacking in ideas -- it’s just their conceptual side that needs a little work.