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Kids Of 88
Sugarpills
Sony Records
www.kidsof88.com


It comes as no surprise to learn that the Kids Of 88 hail from New Zealand. For a pop music culture dominated by electronic and synthesizer-based music, Jordan Arts' and Sam McCarthy's debut album, Sugarpills, fits neatly into this box. The production duo generated popularity in 2009 when their single, "My House", reached number 3 on the charts. Since then, the band has amassed a following. Sugarpill's ten tracks might remind listeners of other down-under electronic bands like Miami Horror, Midnight Juggernauts, and The Presets. However, unlike these other acts, Kids Of 88 is exclusively techno; the album is predominately composed of synthesizers and drum machines, garnished with McCarthy's lightly agitated vocals.

The album opener, "Ribbons Of Light", begins with a hard kick drum, oscillating bass line, and airy synth pad. As McCarthy sings, "I won't hold this back / you taste so good / and feel so right," there is a sense of insistence and desire, an appropriate tone set for the remainder of the album. The first single off the album, "Just a Little Bit", features a rubbery lead that pulsates over techno claps and kicks. The majority of the album continues with this electronic sheen. The gem on the album however (and perhaps because so), diverges from this sound. "San Fran" is softer and secretive, featuring a stuttered guitar loop that occupies the open bars, a gossamer flute melody serenades in the distance as McCarthy recounts his day dream of the golden city. "Downtown" brings us back to the present, as disco guitar chords flutter against the drum back-beat. Finally, the jam in "SQRL" brings the album to a close.

Sugarpills is irrefutably dance-oriented yet contains moments of song-writing wit that allow this debut that to thrive in clubs and convertibles. The repetition of the album might turn stale for audiences familiar with the complex production of Australian synth-pop bands (Van She, Cut Copy). Yet Sugarpills still offers a solid ground work for future releases - Arts and McCarthy are about to strike gold.

-Parker Tichko

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