Review: Kisses – THe Heart of the Nightlife

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.