Ever think you could compare 70s New wave to Savannah Psych-Sludge outfit Kylesa? No, me neither…
A new Kylesa album used to be a huge event in the Quinn household until 2010’s Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist) showed a mellowing of the lambent, crushing anger, introducing more of the band’s progressive drift. Two albums later and it’s sadly obvious that the band is continuing the journey further from their harsh roots.
Exhausting Fire (Season of Mist) isn’t devoid of bulldozing riffs: opener ‘Crusher’s entrancing verses displaying the customary steel which fires up a laconic, Blondie ballad-style chorus highlighting the increasing melody in Laura Pleasants’ voice. The ensuing ‘Inward Debate’ is Philip Cope’s first foray into action, immediately infusing the sound with a buzzing anger: yet his performance in ‘Moving Day’ is more indolent, an almost spoken-word delivery, Pleasants’ honeyed backing and jangling hookline giving way to a fuzzed coda.
This is a less inventive, softer Kylesa, seemingly happy after all these years to plough a furrow without traversing the path of discovery. Briefly howling leads and a growling riff awaken the dreamy, drifting ‘Falling’, the kind of track the band are becoming more well-known for. The Talking Heads-esque ‘Night Drive’ is a cool evocation of the cosmic violence of the Spiral Shadow era, a lazy Prog infused with swelling, pulsing power. ‘Blood Moon’ however, is more indicative of the second half of the album, its blend of Asian-influenced MOR and bludgeoning Punk feeling tired and occasionally flaccid: a tiredness which the insouciant, Nirvana-like ‘Growing Roots’, only occasionally tempting with spiralling swells, further highlights.
Closer ‘Out of My Mind’ sees more of those terribly wearisome vocals – in all honesty, the biggest problem here – destroy a gradual pogo-fest. It’s by no means dire, just desperately disappointing and lacklustre. Here, it seems, we have a once-crushing colossus now older, battered by tough times, and content to peddle uninspired stodge which eclipses many other bands’ output, but insults Kylesa’s legacy and name. Intermittent flashes of dazzling, indelible former glories save us from a worse fate. Exhausting Fire? Exhaustion seems not a million miles away…