Bait is for Sissies is Kino Kimino’s punk pop punch

Bait is for SissiesLet’s get the record straight: with Bait is for Sissies, Kino Kimino have produced a stellar album that negates its new-born debut status. Fraught with emotion from start to finish, fine musicianship and the songwriting talent of front woman Kim Talon are added to the whiteboard to create an explosion of punk pop carnival colours.

Many listeners will be drawn to Bait is for Sissies thanks to founding member Talon’s in-studio collaboration with Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley. Sonic Youth’s rhythm section adds distinguishable layers to the album which could be seen to disguise Kino Kimino’s own, independent sound. Being honest with ourselves, this is a minor if not redundant negative: if an album’s going to pay homage to reverberated, scuzzy rock, why not bring in the godfathers of the genre to replicate the sound? So many (often male fronted) bands have tried and failed to recall 90s guitar music: it’s nothing short of refreshing to find a band doing it right, least of all one fronted by a woman. Kino Kimino may sacrifice some of their individuality for the sake of recruitment, but ultimately the gamble pays off, creating a hectic barrage of sound on “Blood Bath” especially.

To be clear, the success of this album is not in the hands of Shelley and Ranaldo. Nor is it because of the work of producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile) or rhythm guitarist Melinda Holm who do an equally decent job at their assigned tasks. It’s Talon who brings the goods on Bait is for Sissies. With skills carefully crafted through former projects JAN and Eagle & Talon, and alongside touring partners such as Deerhoof and Sia, she creates a hop scotch show of pulled pigtails (“Rosy Rudiger”) and roll around in the dust punk pop (“Pale Calico”). It’s bratty, it’s a little weird, but best of all it’s fun without being abrasive.

Neither are Kino Kimino a one trick wonder. Lead single “Passion” paved the way for the band back in April 2016, and it’s undeniably a mind boggling highlight of the debut – what the hell does “Passion is the mashed potato of my love” mean, anyway? Despite its dominance in terms of coverage of the band, there are quieter, more sombre moments to be had here. Take for example “Hide Your Kin” with its clunky girl chant, or the sprawling “Lace Them Taught”. Bait is for Sissies is coherent too, insofar as the genre can be, gently edging from one style to the next without compromising the overall style of the album.

Loud but not abrasive; stylised but never vein; respectful but rule breaking; Bait is for Sissies falls squarely within the punk rock camp without falling foul of its failures. Kino Kimino have created that rare thing: an urgent album that shows versatility, skilled instrumentation, and a tongue in cheek intelligence. This is an essential album and extremely worthy of your time.

Release: 3rd June 2016, Bi/Akka Records

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