This Is The Kit Moonshine Freeze Rough Trade Records

07 10

Everything about this fourth record from This Is the Kit suggests they’re stepping up a gear. They’ve signed to Rough Trade, brought in a heavyweight producer in the form of John Parish and continued their fruitful, long-standing collaborative partnership with Aaron Dessner of The National, who contributes instrumentally. Committed fans of Kate Stables’ outfit, then, might be forgiven for worrying that some of the idiosyncrasies that made the last three albums from the project so engaging could be stripped away, with the weirdness lost a little in the translation.

Thankfully, not so. Thematically speaking, Moonshine Freeze is rooted in the exploratory folk territory that Stables has made her calling card, and as niche as it might seem to be delving into talk of oracles and superstition, the truth of the matter is that the Paris-via-Bristol artist tells those stories in an endearingly colloquial style – Empty No Teeth and Riddled with Ticks are cases in point. Musically, meanwhile, there’s subtle expansion; flecks of brass here, flutters of strings there, but it’s really on the more experimental tracks that it comes to the fore. Two Pence is darkly electronic one minute, soothingly led by the warmth of the electric guitar the next. The jaunty Hotter Colder pulls a similar trick, flitting between folk and rock and still finding room for a saxophone freakout, whilst the title track is one point at which the ambitious outlook backfires – its off-kilter shuffle never really gets going.

Moonshine Freeze is This Is the Kit’s most accomplished work to date, and even those turned off by the wider net they cast here should at least find folky comfort in the likes of Easy on the Thieves. That the LP encompasses both the old and new sides of Kate Stables’ band means it can occasionally feel disjointed, but if that’s the price to pay for avoiding treading water, we should be pleased that Stables was happy to go along with it.

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