Review: The Silence Kit – A Strange Labor

So many bands refuse to reveal their influences, presumably as a means of avoiding easy comparisons or accusations of imitation. In the case of Philadelphia’s The Silence Kit, they celebrate their post-punk influences and list many of the best bands from that area on their web site. Of course a great record collection doesn’t always equal a great band but The Silence Kit do their heroes justice even if they are unlikely to reach out beyond fans of their chosen genre.

Judging by ‘Two Halves’ they’ve lightened up since their 2006 debut but the song never really gets started; a real worry considering this is their opening gambit. Likewise, ‘Dry Summer’ sounds like watered-down indie. ‘A New Disappointment’ is a notable improvement but – thanks to McCay’s pained delivery – it comes across like a Cure pastiche. There’s a general air of resignation about ‘A Strange Labour’ which sometimes threatens to suffocate the listener. However, there is a flipside to this initially unpromising story.

Thankfully ‘Reassurement’ is free of cliche and full of the brooding intensity which made their first album a treat. Then the true moment of magnificence comes five tracks in. ‘Am I Missing Something’ features a great rumbling intro, skyscraping guitar from the House Of Love songbook and an urgent performance from McCay where even his cries of “Aah” towards the end of the record sound perfect. Not quite as brilliant but still great is ‘And If I Ever See You Again’ where once again the group bridge the gap between doominess and vitality. It’s hard not to admire the gloomy psychedelia of ‘You Can’t Be Serious’ where Echo And The Bunnymen’s Arabesque guitar sound is given a murky makeover and the dominant bassline of ‘Geometric’ has more than a hint of New Order about it.

As one can imagine, listening to these songs is like playing a game of “spot the musical reference” but it should certainly delight post-punk fans. What is more, The Silence Kit hit more than they miss, providing enough excitement to overcome the studied gloom.

Web Sites:
The Silence Kit Official Site
The Silence Kit MySpace

Further Listening:
The Cure, The Reverse, Calla

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