Kinnie The Explorer
Kinnie The Explorer
UK ALCOHOL RECORD LABEL ALKTE01LP (2012)
On the cover of this record a rabbit contemplates a leopard- and lion-festooned tapestry from the safety of a cushioned stool. Colour-wise it blends in nicely. So too does the blue lettering of the band’s name: Kinnie The Explorer, which renders reading it a difficult task, while setting the standard for further mysteries. Who is ‘Kinnie’ and what is being explored? What could possibly await the listener in these ten, tender slices of country-tinged psych-rock?
The lyrics offer a good starting point: murky and evasive beneath the initially chirpy voice of youth. The songs are rich in religious imagery – abounding with references to Krishna, Jesus and the Devil – and surrealistic syntax, illustrating an interior journey in which we witness playful youth slowly dissolve, by necessity, into age. And while not explicitly downcast, they also speak of loss, which carries well in singer Peter Lancely’s ever-so-slight southern drawl: though whether this loss is of youth, innocence or someone special is not made explicit; that it simply ‘is’ is stoically accepted. And only in the brief bridge track ‘In Limbo’ is the spell of youthful confidence self-control broken, when an out-of-character falsetto confesses to being ‘too high to speak to anyone’, suggesting a temporary loss of the senses, and perhaps marking a turning point in Kinnie’s worldview: one of those eye-of-the-duck moments.
For the most, melodies are either upbeat or high-as-a-kite: cleanly picked notes spring from the lead while the rhythm guitar is delayed all the way to dinnertime; Kit Vincent’s rapid-fire marching meters and twinkling percussion doing a great job of both propelling and levitating the songs into the sublime. Perhaps the only thing missing from this pastoral potpourri is a banjo. But while only the odd shadow passes over the group’s limpid, sun-lit play pool in tracks such as ‘Scissor Dance’ and ‘Mardi Gras’, it emerges more definitely with the arrival of closer, ‘James Town’, by which time minor key has supplanted major, and the denuded, mythological landscape appears as a cracked-covered body, in the arms of which ‘devil weeds grow’. Though ever slippery to interpretation, the beauty and horror of these dream images are as vivid as daylight.
It sounds as though much effort has gone into crafting this little gem, on the strength of which the young group – a wise pick by label head Ed Baxter – could well snowball into something big in the future.