One of the problems with coming to a new album with expectations is that sometimes they are confounded. That sounds like a pretty negative start, but it’s not meant to be. I first came across Kassidy via their Rubbergum Ep (the first in a series of three, although I missed the subsequent ones). I really liked the combination of melody and layered harmony with a nice, dusty Americana vibe that had me thinking of them along the same lines as other locals such as Porch Song Anthology and Sparrow And The Workshop, and was looking forward to the full album.
Roll forward a year, give or take, and the album, Hope St, finally appears to a fair amount of fanfare. So, I eagerly stick it in the machine and to be honest my initial reaction (which is the whole point of NAF after all) is…mixed.
The tracks that I enjoyed on the EP (at least the three out of five that made it to the album), have been reworked. This benefits some more than others. On one hand opener, Stray Cat, feels 20% faster than the original recording, and licks along as if in a hurry to get on to the rest of the album. On the other hand, The Betrayal has benefited from a good dynamic adjustment.
The album does touch on the dark country vibe I was hoping for. That Old Song could have been cut by Cash (or perhaps John Leyton) and The Lost rollicks along like a runaway caboose. But in other places that vibe is little more than dressing. Check out the Morricone-esque bells on La Revenge and the tenor humming bvox on title track, Hope St.
In the end though, this is not exactly a criticism because Kassidy just aren’t the band I’d thought they were on first evidence. They do have those Americana influences, sure, but their real strength is in their big – BIG – humtastic choruses. If that vocal riff in Stray Cat doesn’t lodge fast on the tip of your tongue after a verse and a chorus there’s something wrong with you. And there’s no doubt that Oh My God is set to be a certain favourite at this summer’s festivals.
So, Hope St isn’t what I was expecting. But I think perhaps it’s something a bit more interesting than that. It’s a fascinating blend of bare bones Americana and radio-friendly pop, and the skill involved in creating it is really impressive.