Tuesday, 20 March 2012

EP Review: Summer – Happens Every Year

Pop focused regrouping from the ex-Kidnapepr Bell trio

As it turns out, the last release from Birmingham's Kidnapper Bell was 'Everything Ever' on last year's Keep Pop Loud CD. Having spent the winter working on their new angle they are, like their namesake, making tentative steps towards re-appearance.

Happens Every Year is the first fruits of a winter of Tuesday evenings, and although Summer bare some of the trademark sounds of their old guise the very nature of the change has had the biggest sonic impact. Echoing guitars reverberate around over skittering electronic drum machines with an effect that's closer to pop than their post-punk/rock earlier guise. It's a new and welcome development, setting Summer apart from their past and peers.

This EP tests the waters for this new sound, and among the five songs are two that stand out straight away as highlights. First and foremost there is opening track 'Decisions Decisions'. From the first moments where a sunny piano lays the foundations for tight vocal harmonies and interplay between the bass and electric guitar we're treated to a sense of optimism. Steadily building in an almost cyclical fashion, it's not what might have been expected from the band, but is all the better for it. Equally as fresh is 'Stay Where You Are, a track that best utilises the scratchy drum machine snaps as a backdrop for the shimmering feel of either a harsh and isolated urban winter or blissful idealised hazy summer. The snatches of background samples and live percussion make this a perfect headphones moment.

In fact, it's moments that Summer's music best captures: tiny snapshots of their namesake season. There's the feeling of momentary contentment that comes with sitting in a beer garden as the sun goes down that comes with 'Off We Go' as the song is stripped back to simple elements and makes the most of backing vocals and drum machine taps. Meanwhile 'This Is Proof' brings to mind the later evening walk to a night out, with friends. Zippy guitars mean that this is perhaps closer to their Kidnapper Bell days than some of the other moments on Happens Every Year , but ultimately is only a lusher production job away from being a dancefloor filler in it's own right.

Although on 'Stay Where You Are' Summer sing “If it hurts to move stay where you are”, it's clear that this is advice they've not taken themselves. Moving forward short of a band member cannot have been the most easiest choice, but these recordings show that they have indeed moved in a very good direction.

Keep Pop Loud

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