Album Review – Cooler Returns by KiwI Jr (2021) (Sub Pop Records)

KiwiJr

There was a time when Toronto’s Kiwi Jr, were so perfectly everyman. A couple of no label cassette releases were loved enough by the (un)masses of the (un)popular indie music underclasses, just enough to see their briiliant Football Money debut, released by a Mint Records label that have a similar ‘made it despite themselves’ allure.
Thankfully, being picked up by Sub-Pop for this sophomore, has done nothing to change their sense of ramshackle, even if it is now imbued with moments of subtle finesse, that was perhaps missing in their more gregarious tempos of yore.
The best of the album still totally rocks. Jangle-rocks to be totally precise. With early Dante Elephante / Woolen Men style suggestions, swaying jangled riffs and faux melodies through incisive guitar layers, Maid Marian’s Toast, Cooler Returns, Guilty Party and Domino, repesent the best of what they have always been.
It is still a very much a Football Money sound, but somehow just seems that little bit more considered and slightly more snarling in its delivery of the sardonic lyrical diatribes that are directed largely at pretention.
However, whilst their is a pleasing contunuation of all that was good before, the band have definitely developed. Perhaps out of the confidence and self belief that must be aroused when you have been signed by both Mint Records and Sub-pop labels in less than two years, or perhaps just as a result of critical acclaim unconsciously ‘allowing’ a certain level of atypical elaboration.
Whatever the reason, tracks such as opener Tyler (in itself an assured choice as an initial offering), Highlights of 100, Dodger and Norma Jean’s Jacket slide surreptitiously into the sort of subtle left field jangle of acts like The Clean and Pavement, whilst nibbling away at the parameters of pop-rock with reduced tempo’s, bits of piano, Kinksian folk persuasions and all manner of other more traditional musical flourishes. It’s not really them, but such tracks are accomplished enough to suggest it might well be in the future.
Kiwi Jr are beginning to become the darling of all those blogs, who can be bothered/afford, proper .com names and hosting. However you just get the feeling that they will always ‘feel’ perfectly micro-blog in their musical aesthetic. A band of the people if you will.

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