The debut full-length release from Kissing Is A Crime, out Friday on Don Giovanni Records, is surely the most significant album you're likely to contemplate purchasing this week. And, in this bit of rambling from me, I'm going to try to convince you how much you need this one in your collection, on whatever format suits your lifestyle.
The New York-based band -- Matthew Molnar (vocals, guitar), Beatrice Rothbaum (vocals, bass), Larry Sass-Ainsworth (lead guitar, vocals), and Alex Feldman (drums) -- make indie-pop that sparkles with the sort of charms that a whole slew of C86 legends possessed. And yet, to say that is to sort of assign this band a genre label that they are quite capable of transcending. If opener "Nervous Conditions" bears a trace of earlier groups like The Wolfhounds or Close Lobsters (to continue that C86-based line of thinking), the next track, the superb "Permanent Damages", is all Echo and Bunnymen hooks circa Heaven Up Here, something dark and buoyant all at the same time. The effervescent "Sheila's Gone" places this group's sound next to that of a few recent Slumberland signings like Literature or Expert Alterations, while the excellent "You Make Me Shatter" made me think of early Aztec Camera, or even something off the first Prefab Sprout album. The tune-age here is so well thought-out and conceived that one hesitates in using the usual adjectives that one would trot out for indie-pop like this; jangle-y would just not work here, you know? So I'm left thinking of which parts here sound like so many of my favorite bands.
If "Kids" offers a brief nod in the direction of "You Made Me Realise"-era MBV, then the excellent "Crown Royal" chimes with a bright sense of purpose that suggests some new spin on these familiar touchstones of inspiration. The darker "Blind Bruises" dips again into something heavier, a dash of Joy Division and those early Echo records (again). After indulging in a bit of near-hardcore with "You Would Never Understand", Molnar and Kissing Is A Crime offer up the ringing album closer "Unanswered Prayers", all Johnny Marr-riffs and Shop Assistants vocals paired perfectly.
I've tried to put this release into some sort of context for the hypothetical indie fan who's on the fence about purchasing this one, but, frankly, I don't see how there could be any doubt that Kissing Is A Crime by Kissing Is A Crime is a superb record. The charms of this one are immediate and memorable, and every cut very nearly rings with the sort of promise that makes me want to follow this band carefully from here on out.
Kissing Is A Crime by Kissing Is A Crime is out on Friday from the fine Don Giovanni Records label. Pre-order it on the format of your choice. Follow Kissing Is A Crime via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Uncredited photo from the band's Facebook page]