Surrealism has been finding its way into pop music on a more consistent basis since 2015, and we find its fingerprints all over Kingdom of Birds’ Glitz extended play without having to look very hard. Cornerstones of the band’s latest release include the single “Goodbye” (and its spacy music video), the grinding post-punk track “Dotted Lines,” and the experimental but tuneful “Your Friends,” and if you’d thought that Kingdom of Birds had pushed themselves as far as they could go stylistically in Effortless or EP, prepare to be surprised by what they’ve come up with in this record.
“Goodbye” and “Unknown” are two of the more conservative tracks that I’ve heard bearing this group’s moniker in the byline, and they’ve also got a little more balance than the stars of Pretty did. The songwriting is getting a lot stronger here, and even though I’d adjust the EQ on the guitars to get less of a J Mascis kind of noise on the rockier riffs (i.e. the hook in “Dotted Lines”), I think that this is some of their most focused material to date. “Waiting” could use a louder drum track, but it’s nonetheless a powerhouse jam that holds as much water as “Unknown” does.
So many rock bands that I’ve been reviewing in the last couple of months have had a love affair with over-layering their mixes, but that isn’t a problem for Kingdom of Birds’ Glitz. The hooks are as simple and straight-laced as they come in “Waiting” and “Your Friends,” and while the band uses a roundabout means of getting to their point in the lyrics here, that doesn’t stop the music from sticking in my head – and staying there – for a respectable amount of time after the record has stopped playing.
Kingdom of Birds are very much a fusion act if I’ve ever heard one, and though their style of attack produces some pretty out-there results (like the swarthy “Unknown”) once in a while, it also produces plenty of undebatable diamonds like “Goodbye” and the lush “Your Friends.” I constantly have to remind myself that everyone in this band is under eighteen years of age, because in songs like “Waiting,” the lyrics are as scathing as what I would typically hear out of a punk vocalist well into her 20’s. There’s a lot of ingredients waiting to be blended together in their sound, and once they figure out the perfect recipe, they’re going to be as good as gold for their scene.
I highly recommend taking a look at Glitz this month as well as the collective works of Kingdom of Birds. For what it lacks in pop sophistication it more than makes up for in youthful inhibition, and if it’s a taste of what the band has got planned for their upcoming records, I think that this won’t be the last time that you see their name in the press. When most of us were their age, we were more concerned with homework than we were mastering the art of making an immaculate vocal harmony, and taking into account their dedication to the latter affords us reason to give their latest EP a second glance this season.