Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences with the new Moving Castles EP. Well, it seems that Moving Castles frontman John Hetherington has been busy, since his other group, Knifight, just released a new record as well. We’ve been tracking Knifight for a while here at OVRLD, since we find their mixture of darkwave and dance quite appealing. With their latest, V*, they continue to refine their distinctive sound.
John Gable, Patrick Marshall, Nick Garrison, John Hetherington and Nick Cogdill have made the most consistent record of their career. I really enjoyed 2013’s Dark Voices but I could never hear it without first putting my 80s pants on. Many parts of that record blurred the line between “retro” and “dated,” even if that did end up leading to some winning tracks like, “Black Daggers” and “Dark Voices.”
V, on the other hand, feels very contemporary right off the bat, with its mixture of oscillating electronics and squawking distortion. Knifight seem here to be quite comfortable with letting atmospheres build. Opener “Mistakes” takes roughly two minutes to kick into full gear, but it’s a beautiful two minutes of scene-setting, easing the listener into their dark but energetic mise en scene. And it only dawns on you after four minutes that you’ve been listening to the hippest gospel song ever.
Another immediate winner is “Broken Feeling,” with its Bravery-esque rhythm section. The juxtaposition between Gable’s dour lyrics and the infectious music suggests that the only solution to temporary depression is to dance it out (or “shake it off,” as Taylor Swift might say, or “shake it out” like Florence + the Machine…either way Knifight do way more showing than telling). It’s infectious.
Yet, Knifight mine some new territory for them, as well. “Young Lovers” is like a synthy Alice in Chains song with its drop-D chorus. And it works incredible well! “Buttons (slow)” uses vocal manipulations and emphatic samples over a dark trance to create a super spooky slow burn. No track on this record is a dud.
My one nit to pick is mostly a pet peeve of mine. Both “A Perfect Day to Die” and “Young Lovers,” otherwise delightful songs, both begin with lengthy unavoidable spoken word passages. What if I want to put these songs on a playlist? Or play them for a friend? I have to sit through that “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” monologue every time? Personally, I prefer my eerie spoken word interludes to be their own tracks or at leas to show up at the end of a song so that it is easily skippable when I’m not listening to the album straight through.
But the fact that I can make a relatively minor argument with this record, speaks to its high level of quality in general. The record sounds fresh, and features great songwriting. It’s another step forward for a group that has been a local leading light for a long time.
*No, this is not a Maroon 5 cover album.