MOUNT KIMBIE Love What Survives gets 8.5/10

Mount Kimbie
Love What Survives
Warp/Inertia

8.5/10

With their third LP, Mount Kimbie move further away from beat-driven music and more fully into a live-sounding project. Coupled with great songs and further development of their ambient lo-fi production, Love What Survives is possibly their best album.

The tracks feature a happy fusion of electronic and organic instruments, with outstanding vocal performances by a bevvy of talented singers. Mount Kimbie have always used live instruments to generate their sounds, but on Love What Survives they seem to have perfected a live-sounding yet warmly electronic feel. There are distorted guitars, delicate hi-hat cymbal work and bass notes that slap. Indeed, it’s hard to believe Mount Kimbie were ever the flag-bearer of the ‘post-dubstep’ wave when they first emerged around 2010. Such tags miss the point that amidst all the studio atmospherics, Mount Kimbie are capable of penning some great tunes. Love What Survives sounds like a maturing of this ability, with memorable tracks throughout.

The tracks with guest vocals are the real standouts, with every singer putting in a heartfelt, dramatic contribution to the album. Indeed, these tracks would be highlights on all of their own albums, but assembled here as the heart of Love What Survives is a bit of a coup on Mount Kimbie’s part.

As with previous albums, King Krule crashes into the proceedings on Blue Train Lines, the second track. A ragged pacey ballad, King Krule is on point again, guesting for Mount Kimbie albums like Danny Brown guests hip hop tracks. You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure) features semi-fixture Andrea Balency, and conjures a jangly pop track with a Stereolab feel due to the duetting female voices. Marilyn features a contribution from Micachu, a steel-drum infused laid back number, propelled along nicely by a loping bass riff and spacious drums.

Although the rhythms are snappy and the ballads taut, there’s a melancholic thread that runs through many of the tunes. The choice of piano to achieve these more somber moods enables the melodies to linger in the air of these tracks.

Owing to some of the intensity in the vocal tracks, the instrumental tracks space out the album. All are top notch, from the drum & bass-y Delta, to the sunny Audition and all the way to Poison, a short piano piece filled with sadness and longing, yet is done with such skill it wipes away some of its own tears.

The two James Blake tracks provide some of the high points on Love What Survives. We Go Home Together features a minimalistic keyboard melody with some fuller organ sounds fleshing out the background, but Blake’s vocals really take it to the mountain, as it were. How We Get By closes the album, including the lyrics “Blocking out the thought is how we get by, when we get it wrong” repeated to build up a kind of confessional yet cathartic mantra through the piece.

Penultimate track T.A.M.E.D also mines the melancholic territory: “Dark clouds that came as some surprise…”. But the male-female alternating parts act as a cheeky call and response to not make the mood too dark.

Overall, Love What Survives works on many levels, with some wonderful melodic lines, warm organic production and excellent vocal performances throughout. The album features some of their finest compositions and continues to showcase outstanding production values, morphing Mount Kimbie more in to an indie band rather than beat-makers. For most listeners this won’t matter at all – what matters are the songs and Mount Kimbie deliver with another fine album.

PAUL DOUGHTY

 

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