So I've made a big deal out of the relentless first come-first served policy we have for You Asked For It, our weekly local CD review column, a few times before. This week, I'm breaking it. I'm only moving Kinch up one week, but I wanted to confess it up front. I feel guilty, but for the band who made the best local record of last year -- and who New Times is sponsoring for SxSW -- we can make an exception to get the review out in time for their CD release party this Friday at Modified Arts.
So how is Kinch's new EP, The Economic Chastisement? Well, you'll probably be unsurprised to learn it's solid; a nifty three songs of piano-driven indie rock recalling the best Britpop acts of the previous decade, but with a sheen closer to Coldplay.
Opening with the title track (which may or may not be a reference to the concept of divinely-planned recession), the EP gets off to a moody start, a plodding bass line sounding disjointed from the aloof vocals. Having set the scene, Kinch brings in the Andrew Junker's piano, which always glues the band's songs together, and everything gels.
Things pick up on "C.V.," heavy keys thudding down to start the track, which soon develops an engaging melody, especially when the drums and bass kick in. It's more like "Memphis" than any other Kinch song, though the guitar solo halfway through makes it a fuller song than the track from Advances. At over five minutes long, and with several distinct sections, it's also the closest thing the band has to an epic at this point.
The last track, "Handclap" is the most upbeat and, at barely over two minutes, it's also shorter than anything else I've heard from Kinch. That's a shame, because the buildup takes three quarters of that, and when the cathartic blast of guitar finally hits, the track, and the record, are almost over. That refreshing squeal of electrified strings following a delicate piano bit is what made Advances such a joy, and it's largely missing on The Economic Chastisement.
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Overall, Economic is a solid effort, but it feels more like a teaser. Career-wise, that's the smart move -- record labels love EPs that hint at what a band can do without laying it all out -- but I'll be unsatisfied until I hear the next full Kinch record, hopefully with a few of the full-on rockers that made Advances sound so complete.