Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns Music Album Reviews

Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns Music Album Reviews
On their second album and first for Sub Pop, the Canadian indie rock group pairs shaggy guitars with sardonic observations. 

Kiwi Jr.’s Jeremy Gaudet has a gentle voice that naturally tempers his barbed observations. Over the course of the band’s second album Cooler Returns, he takes passing shots at office drones, art school students, film school rejects, cancel-culture alarmists, sports bros, people who care too much and people who care too little—really anybody who lives an unexamined or over-examined life. And yet for all the judgement in his lyrics, you never hear contempt in his voice, which carries the unflappable quippiness of Stephen Malkmus and wry astonishment of Jonathan Richman. It’s puppyish, sometimes almost tender, with a kid-brother quality that makes even his most cutting barbs land like a very gentle ribbing. If he called you out by name, you’d have a hard time thinking he really meant anything by it.
On their 2019 debut Football Money, the Canadian group made a spirited grab for some of Parquet Courts’ market share, meting out jangly hooks with the affable dependability of a SpongeBob Pez dispenser. Cooler Returns, their first for Sub Pop, maintains the exuberant tempos and party sensibility, leaving a trail of red plastic cups in its wake even as it largely subs out electric guitars with acoustic ones, accompanying them with splashes of piano, organ, and harmonica. It’s an impatient, slacker-rock imagining of a folk album, Highway 61 Revisited by way of Harlem’s Hippies. 

Once again their guitars are perfectly pitched. On the country-hued “Only Here for a Haircut” (yes, a haircut song, and no, Pavement comparisons never bothered this band), some chords ring out with George Harrison glossiness while others are as shaggy and impetuous as The Clean—rarely do hi-fi and lo-fi splendors coexist so harmoniously. But if those guitars are the foundation of these songs, Gaudet’s prose is always the centerpiece. His sardonic storytelling and mocking asides stand out even more than his 12-string, whether he’s skewering the arts scene on “Undecided Voters” (“I take photos of your photos and they really move people”) or roasting the exurban lifestyle on “Highlights of 100” (“I got plans to build my house, a great big house out in the country, 16 terabytes of land with asterisk and ampersand.”)

On “Tyler,” Gaudet recalls “falling apart in the green room while you drank half the headliner’s rider.” On a Hold Steady record, that vignette might have played into the band’s sordid look behind the red curtain. It could be a Los Campesinos! lyric, too, if the narrator puked at some point, but Gaudet never goes that sour. On Cooler Returns, it’s one pithy rhyme then it’s on to the next—and there are so, so many to get through. “I am not American but I feel the beat sometimes/When I run into the screen door at the retreat trying to learn the new lines,” he huffs over the jerky post-punk of the title track.

If Kiwi Jr.’s songs fall short of some of the great slacker-rock smartasses Gaudet fashions himself after, it’s because he doesn’t always have the conviction to match his irreverent observations. Behind their aloof veneers, Jonathan Richman and Stephen Malkmus’ lyrics outline very particular sets of values and beliefs. Gaudet’s sarcasm, on the other hand, feels more like a posture than a worldview. Still, it makes for an indisputably good time, and this band wears their light touch well. What Cooler Returns lacks in heft it makes up for with unadulterated kicks.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns Music Album Reviews Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on January 29, 2021 Rating: 5


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