Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Looking For The Way Out: A Quick Review Of The New Stuart Kidd Album

Stuart Kidd, Stu, has played on dozens of great records from Dr. Cosmo's Tape Lab, to BMX Bandits, to Gorky's main-man Euros Childs' stuff, to that awesome Jonny record (Euros Childs with Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub), to the Linden album. These have all been fine projects but leave it to Stuart to manage another masterpiece on his own. Where Are The Strange People?, out now, sees Stuart Kidd, here billed as KiDD, offer up a release that is sure to appeal to fans of those previously-mentioned recordings, as well as listeners who appreciate Super Furry Animals and mid-period Boo Radleys, for example, as well.

If "Little Flower" sounds a lot like the sort of lyrical number that Martin Carr would commit to tape, "An Afternoon in April", and especially the languid "Cyan Seren", suggest that Kidd not only spent some time playing music with Euros Childs but that he also listened to a bunch of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci albums. Elsewhere, the superb "Baby Bird" melds a spry Kinks-in-the-Swingin'-Sixties-style hook with an effortlessly infectious vocal-line. If "Misty's Golden Years" is impossibly catchy, it's also oddly reminiscent of the sort of thing one might have heard back in the bubblegum rock era, all easy Beatles-inspired bits melded together in something a bit silly and fun. Near the close of Where Are The Strange People?, Kidd gets a trifle political on "Looking For The Way Out", a rumination on Brexit and the aftermath of that vote that still manages to offer up one of the biggest hooks on the record. Stu's vocal performance on this one is wonderfully relaxed and confident, even given the dire concerns of the lyrics of the tune.

Stuart Kidd can, as far as I can tell, do no wrong. A multi-instrumentalist of immense talent, he's here a fine front-man for what is essentially his own one-man band. And yet, there's nothing really lo-fi here, Kidd having instead followed the lead of artists like Gruff Rhys and Martin Carr in crafting something intimate and expansive. This is wonderfully melodic music that has enough familiar traces to appeal to fans of a load of Britpop-era acts, but which is also adventurous and risky enough to earn Stu Kidd a whole load of fans whose knowledge of, say, stuff from BMX Bandits and Euros Childs isn't very deep. Kidd's managed to make something with all the charm of the records of those acts, but with even bigger hooks and big, bright swathes of melodic charm.

Where Are The Strange People? is out now. You can get more details via Stuart Kidd's official Facebook page, or the link below.

[Photo: Pic from Stu Kidd's Bandcamp page]