Mount Kimbie 2024
Photo: T-Bone Fletcher / Motormouth Media

Ascending Mount Kimbie on ‘The Sunset Violent’

Mount Kimbie stir their influences into The Sunset Violent so well that it’s distinctly a record of theirs and an enjoyable one at that. 

The Sunset Violent
Mount Kimbie
5 April 2024

“Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they,” asks pioneering Black country singer Linda Martell on Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter album. In their way, Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, the founding members of Mount Kimbie, may have had similar thoughts to Martell as they continue to do some genre-crossing of their own on their new album, The Sunset Violent.

Maker and Campos met as college students in the UK and released their initial EP, as Mount Kimbie, in 2009. Their early music, including their acclaimed 2010 album Crooks & Lovers, experimented with a brand of electronic chill-out music that generally felt more homespun and lo-fi than it did bright and shiny (though, as “Mayor” on Crooks & Lovers proves, Mount Kimbie create quite snappy music when they want to). 

In the years since Crooks & Lovers, Maker and Campos have worked both as Mount Kimbie and as solo artists, gradually bringing a variety of musical elements to their mix. Playing Crooks & Lovers and The Sunset Violent back-to-back, a listener might not initially realize they’ve been listening to albums by the same band, but if you fill in the gaps by listening to their work between 2010 and 2024, the transformation of Mount Kimbie from an electronic/ambient dance entity to an indie rock band with electronic/ambient tendencies begins to make sense. 

The Sunset Violent gets off to a decidedly post-punk start with the churning guitars and dissonant synths of “The Trail”. Though primarily an instrumental, the song features ghostly, wordless vocals, presumably by Andrea Balency-Béarn, who, along with Marc Pell, has joined Mount Kimbie for the album. Balency-Béarn is credited as a co-writer on several songs. 

While The Sunset Violent might not qualify as straight-up pop, it does have its darkly poppy moments. “The Figure in the Surf” has dreamlike lyrics but is grounded by insistent keyboard lines and a stick-in-your-head melody. Meanwhile, “Fishbrain” will leave its title as an earworm in your head, even later as you’re contemplating whether the singer is calling a fellow human a “fishbrain” or asking a fish how their brain works. Either way, prepare to have the word “fishbrain” invade your brain during random moments hours after you’ve listened to the song. 

“Got Me” uses a minimal set of lyrics and scary music reminiscent of the X-Files theme to express barely repressed relationship angst. 

King Krule, a longtime associate of Mount Kimbie with a discography of his own, collaborates on two tracks. “Boxing” feels like a dark love song with suitably atmospheric electric guitar strumming. The closer “Empty and Silent”, the other King Krule track, is the closest thing The Sunset Violent has to an epic, as guitars and synths and vocals converge to describe a moment of quiet, or maybe not-so-quiet desperation before bringing the song, and the record, to a peaceful coda that perhaps even feels a bit hopeful. 

Older-school listeners may hear traces of Joy Division, Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Pixies, Prefab Sprout, Thomas Dolby, and others within this record’s grooves. Regardless of whether those bits are intentional, merely coincidental, or imposed by the listener, Dominic Maker, Kai Campos, and company stir their influences into this album so well that The Sunset Violent is distinctly a Mount Kimbie record and an enjoyable one at that. 

RATING 7 / 10