Kid 606 finally finds the freedom to make the album he's always wanted to make -- a completely and utterly ordinary one.
Miguel Depedro is Kid 606, and Kid 606 is nuts, or so the story goes. Depedro has a tendency to put out two, even three releases per year, each one a totally different beast from the next. Most famous are Depedro's adventures in beatfuckery, particularly 2000's landmark release on Mike Patton's Ipecac Records, Down With the Scene, and 2003's almost-crazier Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You. That Kid 606 is the one most commonly identified as "prankster", the one who'll splice reggae in with drum 'n' bass with some Merzbow-influenced noise on top of it all, and toss in some samples of his cat meowing for good measure. That Kid 606 is the one that released an album called The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams, which happened to feature mashed up versions of tunes from the '80s and '90s, forcing The Buggles to coexist with D12, a pairing that neither party would have expected or, likely, wanted.
What makes the Kid most interesting, however, is the unpredictable way he'll toss in an album that showcases his sensitive side, not in some faux-poetic way, but through refreshing and frank song titles combined with pretty melodies upon more pretty melodies. Most notably, the six-track Soccergirl EP dealt with issues like his own insecurity ("Defective Boy") and the then-current love of his life ("Thank You for Being My Angel", "If My Heart Ever Ran Away it Would Be Looking for the Day When Right Beside You it Could Forever Stay").
What does any of this have to do with Resilience, the newest Kid 606 release? Not much of anything, actually. And that's exactly what makes it notable, not to mention a touch confusing.
If you ask Depedro himself, Resilience is the album he always wanted to make, an album that finally sees him free of expectations or the need to make an impact. These are melodies and beats that have been floating around his head for years, just waiting for the right time to be unleashed on his now-established fanbase. It's as if Depedro knows, or is at least counting on the idea that his fans will lap this up, that they will take what they're fed and be happy with it, regardless of how it compares to his past work. The thing is, the grandest of revelations to be gleaned from this supposedly revelatory album is just how "normal" Depedro sounds. There may be a reason for this -- on the inside cover, Depedro dedicates the album to his mom, and to be sure, Resilience is the most mom-friendly album that's ever been released under the Kid 606 moniker.
By titling the opening track "Done with the Scene", Depedro simultaneously riffs on his own album title and distances himself from it as well. There are some decent distorted synth noises and tinkly melodies, but one feature sticks out: A midtempo beat establishes itself early on, and then sticks around for the rest of the song! It never changes! This would never have happened on Kid 606 tracks of yore, yet it's one of the common threads of the album -- if you don't like the beat a song starts with, it's not as if you can wait ten seconds for the next one. You're stuck with it! This is especially painful when the beat is subpar, annoying, or both, as on the overlong exercise in wank that is "Sugarcoated", or the underdeveloped quirk of "King of Harm".
Admittedly, some of the tracks work just fine. The aforementioned "Done with the Scene" is engaging, even if it's not in any way extraordinary, and "Spanish Song", while not really terribly Spanish per sé, is a solid slow-burn with some nice siren-type noises attached. Heck, even the reggae-goof "Phoenix Riddim" is at least cute. The problem is, none of them are exciting, none of them grab the listener with any sort of tenacity. The good songs float along pleasantly, and the not-so-good ones plod along with only the vague notion of mild annoyance to set them apart from the ones worth listening to. Even final track "Audition", which features bass guitar played backward and forward while eschewing beats altogether, can't seem to decide whether it wants to be menacing or relaxing.
So if Resilience is truly the sound of Depedro finally creating an album for himself, then good. I'm happy for him. After the years of unpredictability and utter insanity, he deserves to retreat into shallow introversion once in a while, if that's what it takes to keep him happy. Resilience is the sound of a mature Kid, a Kid looking to please his family, a Kid with his head on straight, and that's fine.
But I liked him better as a brat.