Red Kite don’t always connect with Racquet

RacquetWhat does a musician have to say? What is their reason for creating music in the first place? What is it about their art that makes it necessary for them to put it out there?

These are important questions. And yet they are ones that are very rarely asked, let alone answered. It's what leads us to an 'indie' scene swamped with identikit bands whose music has more to do with 'marketing demographics' and 'core audiences' than any feeling of necessity.

This is not a question that Red Kite is afraid to ask themselves on new album Racquet. In the words of Daniel Fisher (previously the guitarist for The Cooper Temple Clause): “The feelings, emotions, and sensations I’m trying to convey can only be conveyed this way.

It's an album that Red Kite say was made without any kind of master plan, with the band following every whim and impulse and seeing where it took them. This does come through when listening to Racquet. Melodramatic Americana rubs shoulders with ambitious sonic soundscapes and somewhat more conventional, hook-filled indie rock. It's an album that feels refreshingly free of any kind of nod to commerciality. Racquet comes across as being made first and foremost because it's an album they needed to make. That alone makes the album instantly likable in its complete lack of artifice.

At its best, the album soars. The atmospheric acoustics of "Black Freighter" all fall perfectly into place, creating an instantly memorable listening experience. "Take Care of Your Own" showcases some truly exhilarating guitar work. When Red Kite is operating at peak performance, Racquet is a very rewarding experience.

However, it's a very inconsistent album, possibly because of its myopic nature. At times, there's a worrying current of self-indulgence, leading to an album that has a significant amount of filler. Songs that may have seemed a good idea in the studio haven't always transferred themselves over to recording successfully.

The instrumental "Fuzzards" is a good example of this pitfall. It contains enough good ideas for a three-minute song, yet insists on relentlessly going on for over seven minutes. While that's the most egregious example, it's not the only song that fails to truly excite. Several tracks are catchy, yet instantly forgettable. The album can veer dangerously close to landfill indie territory, despite the band saying that this is something they're desperate to avoid.

All of this makes it quite hard to give an overall view of Racquet. The dedication of Red Kite to plowing their own furrow deserves acclaim. And when it pays off it does so in a big way.

When it doesn't, you have songs that may have been essential for the band to make, but are anything but when it comes to the listener. There's no real cohesion to the album. That's neither positive nor negative, it just is. But this is first and foremost a collection of songs, some better than others.

Red Kite is very much on a journey of their own, and they only manage to carry the rest of us with them for some of the time. It's definitely worth checking out Racquet for the good parts. Just be prepared to skip those parts of the album that doesn't quite feel necessary.

Release: 3rd November 2017, The Shipping Forecast

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2 Responses to “Red Kite don’t always connect with Racquet”

  1. J R Harbidge 01/11/2017 at 10:47 am #

    I really liked “Take Care Of Your Own”, it reminded me of an early 2000 band but I just cant quite think who. Great production even though I felt it had had the life mastered out of it.

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