San Francisco trio The Kim Philbys has guts — don't they realize bands these days are supposed to be predictable, either melodious or arty-abrasive, not both? In this manner, they recall (yet don't sound like) the Meat Puppets, who encompassed brutal sonic assaults, lysergic twang, and ZZ Top-like boogie. The ominous opener "Coral Canaries" is a study in contrasts — judicious feedback frames the harmonious, confounding chorus "Your hands/So small" while it builds toward an increasingly Dinosaur Jr.-ish crescendo. The forlorn "Pretend We're Dead" resignedly chronicles a disintegrating relationship as the soothing tones of a pedal steel guitar come to the fore to mingle with a bell-like vibraphone. "Fla" has a stream-of-consciousness structure, more akin to the European art songs of Slapp Happy and Art Bears (both in the Henry Cow orbit, by the way), though grounded by a Cure-like recurring guitar motif. This set concludes on a yearningly pretty note via "Carry Me Home," with a gorgeous chorus that suggests at least one of the Philbys owns the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and/or Surf's Up albums. Tired of one-trick-pony bands? Give the KPs' Whir a whirl.
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