California cool kids Kisses released their debut LP The Heart of the Nightlife this week. You could say it’s an ironic title, as the Los Angeles two-piece’s intricately layered electro-indie beats lie in stark contrast to Jesse Kivel’s melancholy murmuring. Kisses radiate the blasé, beachside hipness that this year propelled fellow slacker-rockers The Drums to fame; yet their sound is much more effortless, the lyrics more relevant.
Opening track ‘Kisses’ pivots on a finger-snapping pop beat which, thankfully, doesn’t devalue the soft, sombre vocals. ‘Bermuda’ would sound at home on The Cure’s Disintegration, were it not for the jovial handclaps in the background; similarly, ‘People Can Do The Most Amazing Things’ undercuts Kivel’s reverberating dirge with Miami Beach-style guitar licks.
In fact, the whole album tightens around the juxtaposition of slow, sobering vocals and a restless backbeat. ‘Lovers’ is a mellow number with a quirky romanticism to it, while ‘Midnight Lover’ is high-tempo electro-funk under some charmingly preposterous lyrics about steak dinners and sexily sashaying West Coast women.
On Nightlife, Kisses craft a wonderfully alluring microcosm of their laid-back little world. The carefully chosen instrumentation – from steel guitar to vibrant synths – comes together with meticulous production, lending a velvet texture to their songs. Overall, this is an exceptionally confident debut from the talented two-piece.