Save Your Season
, November 21st, 2011 08:13
Mint Julep's Keith Kenniff has a rather impressive history of scoring adverts, with clients ranging from O2 and Canon to Apple and Toyota via the trailer for Revolutionary Road. So if you notice a car or phone or Kate Winslet movie throwing itself at you all diamante piano and bowed guitar like it's the glory of freaking God revealing itself between episodes of The Only Way Is Essex… chances are that Kenniff a.k.a. Goldmund a.k.a. Helios is behind the whole ordeal.
His solo work may be extensive, but these ads – doey half-minute cliff-notes on Einaudi – are really all you need to hear to understand where Kenniff's strengths as a composer lie. He can write a sentimental hook and has an anatomical understanding of the effect of a good bit of reverb on the brain's pleasure centres. Add to these core qualities a) dry-iced vox from wife & bandmate Hollie Kenniff and b) a desire to experiment with "distorted guitars, loud drums" and being "a little bolder", and Mint Julep feels like the very logical result.
'Aviary' is a fine single: a trembling Radio Deptish emission with layers of three-note melodies appearing and disappearing in a lo-fi froth. (The Mogwai remix is perhaps even better, but that's almost a cliché, isn't it?) K.K. likes his repetition, too: throughout the album, said simple melodies and heavy bass- and drum-lines fire off again and again in various configurations, jolly one-purpose organisms cohabiting Save Your Season's primordial soup.
But the price of a unified experience, here, is that many tracks are indistinguishable. 'Save Your Season', 'Cherry Radio' and 'No Letting Go' judder and swoon and climb over one another to be the prettiest, as off-puttingly as Beliebers. It's all too hammy, too rich to absorb. The most interesting moments on the album are those songs which don't try so hard: the nervous, thumping Kraftwerk-lite of 'To The Sea', for example, or the sumptuously slow and drunken plod of 'Stay'. But mostly the tracks fall short of their own hype. Closer 'Why Don't We', a twitching Junior Boysy ballad, is almost redemptive till you hear the "light/night/tight" rhymic trinity, and the volume inching upwards, and all the overplayed signifiers that the chorus will soon be upon us!
The most dooming similarity between Kenniff's commercial work and this collaboration is this sense of rising action that goes nowhere. Much ado about a Norwegian bank. Much thrilling towards another samey crescendo. Blue balls, then – but not complete balls. These are likable enough pop songs when approached individually. In fact, that 'Cherry Radio' is pretty catchy. Hearing it just once is probably time enough for it to infiltrate the memory. And it will lie in wait there, breeding, brooding, metastasising; until, one fateful day, it compels you to buy the new iPad.