Contemporary Song Cycles Pt. 1
“Initially, it is hard to hear what all the fuss is about because it sounds so very derivative of other contemporaries. Like an unfinished demo tape, it seems tantalisingly close to greatness. So close in fact that it all begins to make sense eventually. Like early Guided By Voices or Lou Barlow at his most inspired, there seems to be real thought behind every decision on One Hundred Dollar Room. Slowly, the genius of Kind of Like Spitting emerges and in other hands, this could all end up being clichéd, but Barnett just seems to know how to arrange songs in a satisfying way. He packs a lot into short periods of time, both lyrically and musically, and doesn’t really put a wrong foot here.” – Exclaim Magazine
Ben Barnett has an impressively broad and diverse body of work under the name Kind Of Like Spitting. In addition to his tenure as the original guitarist for the Thermals, amongst other things, he also put out some 9 albums under said moniker between 2000 and 2005. Some were lo-fi bedroom masterpieces, one was even a big studio production featuring drums and vocals from Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. Throughout it all, Ben made honest art, and that’s something I respect massively.
I am an ardent fan of almost all of it- and there are, admittedly, albums of his that I think are better. This one is the real grower amongst them though. It took me the longest to “get”, and I consider it to be something you must absorb as a whole body of work. Songs reference each other. Segues are present. If you listen closely, you’ll hear a clever, devastating and excellent album that veers between cute acoustic indie pop and huge guitar blazers. Think early Mountain Goats alongside Rites Of Spring maybe. Hell, it even closes with a Billy Bragg cover. Damn.
I can provide links to other KOLS albums if anyone wants, but as I decided to get in on the idea of Song Cycle albums, this is what i’m sharing with you now. Let me know what you think.