I was very happy to see We Are Kin announce their new album recently. “…and I know…” was such a joy back in 2016, and I found myself listening to it quite often. It was simply different than anything else released that year. The band is getting ready to release “Bruised Sky” on July 12th, and it is safe to say that the band, and also Bad Elephant Music, have another winner on their hands.
The band hails from the UK. The lineup includes Emma Brewin-Caddy on vocals, Gary Boast on drums and sound design, Lee Braddock on bass, and Daniel Zambas on keys and vocals. These musicians produce a true flow of music that does not try to “one up” other band members. It’s a fantastic sound that gels and moves together. And guess what? This is their first album that features no guitars at all.
We Are Kin offers a mix of various genres. While there are elements of progressive rock here, much of the music is more in the electronic arena. The band is very good at mixing raw guitars with amber electronic soundscapes, but now they’ve dropped the guitar part. Emma’s vocals are noticeably bluesy in tone, similar to Amy Winehouse (RIP), as are Lee’s bass grooves. So, we end up with a rich album that is full of soul, yet played against slow-burning electronic atmospheres, and you could probably add a hefty dose of pop influence in there, too. It really does not sound like much else out there.
One thing I’ve always noticed about this band is the eccentric song structures they choose. Often enough, a song will take time to get going, even coming across as weak for a minute. However, the song will gain momentum and power and ambiance until the sheer force of it is undeniable. I think an example is in order. “Circles” is the opener here. At first, you are kind of wondering what is happening as it stutters a bit at first, but by the end of this 8 minute song, you are in an electronic trance. The fluid ending is truly outstanding.
Many of the songs follow this suit. Some of them might be more based around a catchy chorus, like the emotional “Leave Me Be” or the addictive “I Won’t Go Back”. Those songs are full of electronic swathes and memorable moments, but the vocals are the true heart.
Other songs are a bit more unusual. “Nothing More” might be my favorite. It feels groovy yet subtle in its approach. I love the thick electronic atmosphere and the tender way it carries along, almost like a refreshing river of water. Speaking of rivers, “Paper Boat” is an interesting 10 minute song to end the album. It feels a bit more abstract, but it is exactly the kind of song I hoped to hear on this record. Between the slow burn, the voice overs, and Emma’s mighty vocal performance, this album ends on a high note.
Overall, I think “Bruised Sky” is slightly weaker than “…and I know…”, but that still means it is a great album that deserves your attention. We Are Kin is making music that doesn’t follow a paradigm or map, and they can end up pretty much anywhere they want. I admire that, and I’m excited to hear more from them.