'Internet discovery' Kisses release a unambitious but confident debut.
It’s hard to forget the first time you hear “Bermuda” by Kisses.Surely the sheer definition of blog phenomenon in 2010, its lo-fi, made-in-my-bedroom vibes and timid melody are effortlessly beautiful, supported by a Casio keyboard backing track that sounds like the cheapest thing that ever transported you to a sun-kissed beach. Follow-up track “People Can Do The Most Amazing Things” was less of an immediate kick to the heart but is the most rewarding of songs with repeated listens, a melancholy soul bubbling beneath its Club Tropicana beats. And now out of the blue, a year on from the first sightings of “Bermuda”, Kisses rather hurriedly see the need to release an album, just when blogging seemed to be working them in such good stead. A hasty move? Totaling at 36.37, the first impression is that with Heart of…, Kisses haven’t given themselves much time to prove themselves.
All the more important to make every second count, one might say. Sadly, the self-titled opening track makes the heart sink somewhat, seemingly a shameless “Bermuda” knock-off that unconvincingly offers the argument to “Keep your heart strong, love long / And give kisses while you can” in the almost identical musical footsteps of “Bermuda” itself. Followed by the two previously released and undeniably remarkable tracks, “Kisses” is easily forgotten.
And as the album flashes past in a blur of pleasant choruses and samey disco beats (samey being a lenient word in this case), one initially feels a bit cheated. Like so many internet “discoveries”, Kisses seem to have rushed into releasing an album ASAP when a few extra months could have provided that much-needed extra musical maturity and an appropriate run-time. As a result, a fair few tracks here are attempts to recapture the magic of “Bermuda” by copycatting each lush and spacious sound that said anthem exhibits.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Kisses have something on their side that allows you to forgive their slightly lazy debut. They have charm, and more importantly, they have an inimitable sound. The cheaply recorded dreamy indie-disco is distinct, warm, welcoming, and thoroughly escapist in a way that most bands would spend thousands on studio technology to create. And with repeated listens, this fact becomes increasingly apparent. “Lovers” and “A Weekend in Brooklyn” are simple and unobtrusive in nature, carried on the same two chords and dated beat that carries much of the album, but the dripping tap Rhodes of “Lovers” and shooting star synths of “A Weekend in Brooklyn” are subtly effective variations to the Kisses formula that may not make the tracks highlights but gives them a warmth and purpose on the record. Dare I say that, when in doubt, the band opts for comfort through familiarity. Not that Kisses are ever in a doubtful mind; in fact they seem very happy with this set up.
And therein lies the record’s success. Kisses are not an ambitious band, but they are a confident one. Confident with their formula, confident with their simplicity, and above all, confident in their ability to charm us out of our cynicism. And for that they should be applauded.