EP Review – Play to Your Strengths by Kodiak Island (2022) (I40 Records)
Back in 2017, as a mere whippersnapper of a blog that was taking it’s first faltering steps into the world of all things social media and blogginess, we used to tag the quite wonderful EverythingIndieOver40 Twitter handle (@IndieOver40), on absolutely everything. We were just too naive to know that it was not really etiquette to do so.
Being a beating heart of indie music though, they did not care and gave us enough re-tweets, likes and mentions to us to get their ‘irritating little cousin’ on it’s way.
Now, finally (for somehow, the label thing, just felt like a natural progression for such a popular indie institution), they have started up their own record label (I40 Records), with this Play To Your Strengths EP, from the Jo Bartlett led (something of an indie institution herself, probably best known for her 2000s output with It’s Jo and Danny and her excellent Indie Through the Looking Glass blog) Kodiak Island that also feels like the perfect fit to start their label with.
Those of you expecting overt similarities to their last four EP’s may be somewhat surprised, if never disappointed. For whereas these recent works were steeped in psyche, they tended to be of a lusicious folk persuasion, with a subtlety and warmth that invited you to be engulfed by their melodies.
Play To Your Strengths, whilst still psyche oriented, is virtually the direct antithesis of the above sound. The opener, Performance, sets the more dense tone of the album, as it takes the almost voodoo rock, heavy psyche-rock bias of The Black Magick Marching Band and twists, fluttering jangled melodies through the dominant fuzz laden core. It’s a power that is not ‘really Kodiak Island‘, but you are glad it is now.
Anything, Everything and No Place continue the psyche dynamism, with both tracks imbuing a driven, indian mysticism into the sound. Fot those that could stomach Kula Shaker, imagine them without the stadium bombast and with a new found sense of fuzzy slick and you are just about in the right, mesmerizing, musical ballpark.
The final track, Lights Go Low, probably drifts further away from psyche than any of the other tracks on the release. Here, lo-fi fuzz grants the melodies space to breathe in the initial section of the track, before it gradually develops into an increasingly gaze-laden sound, that thrives upon an insistence upon melody within the mayhem.
Let’s hope that this is the start of many similarly superb release from I040 Records. They certainly could not have chosen a better way to start their label.