[9 December 2013]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Rhode Island’s the Brother Kite has been crafting big, audacious pop records for years, from the warm layers of Waiting for the Time to Be Right to the cooler, darker tones of Isolation. Their new record, Model Rocket, breaks away from the maximalist formula, though, stripping down their heavy orchestration into more muscled power-pop. The results, on tracks like the ultra-catchy “Secrets” or crunching “Father to Son”, can be bracing. The band can still stretch out on epic rockers like “Small Sparks” and “Am I Making Sound?”, but more than ever it’s about a back and forth between carefully built vocal harmonies and slashing guitars. The change breaks up some of the heavy control of sound that hindered Isolation, though in this new setting the band fares better when they blow out the speakers. More pensive moments like “Giving Up Time” or “True Love” feel a bit thin in this context, especially against such energetic sounds. These moments find the Brother Kite clinging to their past in a way that doesn’t fit, but luckily that doesn’t happen for long. Model Rocket is a solid power-pop record and a good first step in a new direction for a dynamic band.