This is New York City’s Kite Operations third release (first LP) since rising out of the ashes of Theselah in early 2003. I can’t speak for their earlier EP’s (or Theselah) but they’ve certainly wasted no time impressing fans locally and remotely (as far away as Misawa, Japan) with their tantalizing cocktail of noisy, dynamic indie rock. They’ve taken about 2 years to reach heights that normally take most bands several years to ascend.
The fuzzy noise-pop of the opening ‘A Wonder’ bristles along nicely before giving way to the album’s highlight, ‘Effervescence’. The latter quietly stumbles along before a slow-burning Sonic Youth guitar scrape kicks in. At this point I’ve gotten a pretty big Seam vibe, more specifically The Pace Is Glacial album – but picture Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) at the helm instead. The vocal delivery and the hypnotizing bassline in ‘Head Of Steam’ give off a very slight hint of Shudder To Think. We find Kim reaching for highs while drummer Sung Shin pounds and smashes away – seemingly in a world of his own. Actually, you hear a lot of this whimsical percussion all throughout the album – and it’s most welcome even if it could have been mixed a little better. It almost sounds like Shin is bashin’ trashcans out in the driveway while the rest of the band keeps watch over the punch and chips inside.
Kite Operations have managed to elude any kind of immediate pigeonholing by throwing in unpredictable twists and turns. Where it seems the band should be moving in a clockwise manner they instead come to a complete stop and hit the rewind button. See the aptly-titled ‘Surprise’ – it opens on a mellow note with a basic melodic guitar line, stops, regenerates, then bang! Kim starts wailing, cymbals are bashed, a frenzied guitar assault erupts and somehow we’ve hopped several time zones after only spending 7 minutes together. ‘Senses Are Next’, featuring healthy portions of blistering guitar action and start/stop dynamics, strays not far from the above formula. The beautiful, starry-eyed ‘Washing Out’ as well as the loungey ‘Hard Way’ showcase Kim’s diverse vocal range – one of many reasons this album succeeds on almost all levels. One of the two bonus tracks is a very stark, almost a capella, rendition of ‘A Wonder’ of which reiterates the lines ‘we have big confessions to make, this is not the time of miracles, but it’s a wonder we work at all’. No wondering necessary here, I feel ya.