- 23 Jun 20
In their debut album, the Welsh foursome earn their hype and explore new sounds within their shoegaze-influenced indie rock.
Loaded with glittery riffs, operatic choruses, and wispy harmonies, Kidsmoke’s A Vision In The Dark sounds simultaneously like Slowdive, Kate Bush, the Beatles and Mild High Club.
This familiarity isn’t disappointing. On the contrary, the way the Welsh indie rockers’ debut album collects influences is what makes it so fun. Listening to the project is bittersweet in the best way—like returning to a home town dense with half-forgotten people, places and songs.
The delicate, shoegazey sound that established Kidsmoke as one of the most exciting new Welsh acts is in full force throughout the album. ‘Passenger,’ the first track, pulls you straight into the project with a gleaming guitar line. The chantable chorus that follows captures the album’s outlook: “I’m moving on to god knows where and just to kill the time.” As in much of their work to date, Kidsmoke are moody but bright-eyed, exploring a world they admit they do not yet understand.
Many of the album’s other tracks follow this model. ‘The Bluest You’ and ‘Rising Sun’ are both catchy and atmospheric examples of the Kidsmoke formula: bittersweet storytelling, layers of silvery guitars and big, harmonized choruses. One weakness of this formula is that its dreamlike sound clusters around the high end, and after a few plays, begins to feel insubstantial. With an unsatisfying poppy refrain, ‘Higher’ is one track on the album that slips through your fingers almost completely.
That’s why the strongest tracks on A Vision In The Dark are the ones where Kidsmoke break their mould. ‘Little Easy’ takes the band’s music in a slower and more acoustic direction, treating us to almost five minutes of frontman Lance Williams’s sensitive singing. These tracks are also the ones on which Kidsmoke’s many deep influences are most audible—the rich bass line on the verses of ‘She Takes You Under’ could be on the best songs by the Smiths or the Cure.
Leading up to this release, Kidsmoke accumulated many impressive achievements. In 2017, their track ‘Take Me To The River’ was included in the soundtrack of Netflix original Black Mirror. In 2018, they were featured by the Sunday Times. And in 2019, the four-piece played their first ever gig in the United States—at South By Southwest.
A Vision In The Dark is Kidsmoke’s latest triumph. The project ties together a wealth of influences, earning Kidsmoke their hype and hinting at sounds that lie on the other side of the band’s glittery shoegaze.
Listen to the album on Spotify below: