Kiss Me Deadly doesn’t sound quite like any one else among their contemporaries. Roll the clock back 15 to 20 years and they’re not as anomalous, but coming over the crest of this decade the band doesn’t blend in easily with their peers. Not that those around them aren’t invoking bygone influences, but Kiss Me Deadly are clearly drawing from a different well.
Rather than relegate themselves to a reductive renaissance or fad, the band establishes their striking synthesis of uncommon inspirations throughout their debut. The steady bounce and swirling tones of Misty Medley suggest shoegazers like Slowdive but there’s a distinct ‘80s edge as well. That edge is in fact The Edge as the heavily processed guitar from his Unforgettable Fire heyday proves to be Kiss Me Deadly’s most overtly appropriated antecedent. The U2 comparisons come even easier Adam Poulin gets behind the mic and really brings the Bono with all its attendant heat and histrionics. Mostly though it’s Emily Eilzabeth on vocals with her breathy cross between Karen O and Björk. Female vocalists are uncommon enough, and Elizabeth’s vocals are even more unusual if not entirely original. That isn’t always an asset though as her voice grows brittle over slower songs when she’s not swinging from sighing coo to squealing scream.
Other attempts at diversification from the album’s predominant propulsivity aren’t all that successful either. An absurdly stupid bonus track closes the record regrettably sounding like a poor parody of The Make-Up. The instrumental title cut overlays a rumble of bass with shimmering guitar, sweeping violin, and sparse piano that is altogether very Godspeed You! Black Emperor but not nearly as engaging. This problem persists throughout the record as Kiss Me Deadly fuse reputable influences into an amalgamation that never attains the greatness of their origins.
The album is further hampered by some pretty abysmal production. Even by demo standards the work suffers a lack of fidelity. As a debut it makes for an unfortunate introduction. That’s a shame because there really is some intriguing source material here. Ultimately Misty Medley is a futuristic vision rendered in Handycam hues sapping the impact of which it was otherwise capable.
Still a failed attempt at something new is much more admirable than another redundant rehash. Kiss Me Deadly’s style and sound isn’t really revolutionary but it’s definitely distinct. They reject the abrasive angularity of dance-punk but retain all its energy. They endear with familiarity without resorting to the same set of influences already exhausted by new romantic revivalists. Best of all they’ve arrived at an entirely earnest take on dance-positive rock that radiates sincere joy without any hint of irony. With a little more flourish and attention to detail their skipping romps would be unstoppably infectious. With so much potential on display in such an unflattering frame Misty Medley may not be an entirely enjoyable listen, but it establishes Kiss Me Deadly as a band worth watching.