Much in the vein of The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method and Moby, Kava Kava toe the line between electronica and live instrumentation and meld the two into interwoven electro-rock tracks that range from agro alt to electronic-induced groove. The final product is a 10-track hybrid testament to that fact that Kava Kava know where they’re headed–forwards.
The album opens wearing its electronic facet on its sleeve with “Tic.” The nervous synth and vocal samples intro morph into spacey, head-bobber goodness. The “singing-in-a-tin-can” vocal delivery meshes well with the groove guitar work and the myriad of backing soundscapes. The track can only be labeled as full-bodied without being too “busy.” The groovy swagger gives way to the urgent assault of “Clarity.” Dark brooding synth and spoken word lyrics crescendo into auditory mayhem with a heavy rhythm section laying the foundation for distorted guitar work and various electronic clicks and clanks. “Bank Job” is another heavy-hitting track with their ubiquitous synth and keys work riding shotgun only to their soaring lyrical style. Earmarked by clever time changes and agro club beat tempo, the track sounds bound for the soundtrack to this summer’s next action flick. Title track “Forwards” is down tempo and demure, with pedal work laden guitar strums and echo chamber vocals. If the opening tracks can be compared to the likes of The Crystal Method, then this track sounds like Trent Reznor or Dirty Vegas touched it.
I tend to enjoy electronica more when it is used as a nuance rather than a major facet, but Kava Kava play to their strengths on Forwards and keep what they really do best at the forefront of the tracks. The multiple genres at their command, melded into a singular offering certainly keeps Kava Kava safe from any pigeon-holing, so if you can’t find them in your local music store, I would look in the “other” section.
By Chris West