Review : Kindness - World, You Need a Change of Mind
PitchforkFrom the project name to the album title to the beautiful hair framing Adam Bainbridge's face on the cover to the competently percolating grooves, everything about Kindness' World, You Need a Change of Mind goes down easy. The UK-born singer-songwriter has a real feel for idiom. He can do washed-out new wave, strobing disco, atmospheric balladry. He'll throw in a sax break and the odd cover. In one way, Kindness represents the end-point of the chilled aesthetic that tints our memories of the summer of 2009 until they have the look of an Instagram photo. Where much of that music was homemade and owed a lot to Ariel Pink, Bainbridge's Kindness gives that "songwriting as mixtape" approach a professional sheen. With production from Philippe Zdar of French dance outfit Cassius, it's all rendered just so, every element placed where it should be.
That might sound like a faint praise, but the truth is it's hard to get music to sound like this. Back when Bainbridge's musical heroes (Nile Rodgers, Jam & Lewis, Cerrone) were at the peak of their game, the industry generated a lot of revenue and a lot of that went back into studios. People knew how to craft records that sounded good, and they had the tools to make it happen. So the fact that Bainbridge's scratchy lite-funk guitars, rubbery bass, and layered, reverb-saturated vocals are all in their right proportions bears note. When World, You Need a Change of Mind is playing, it's unlikely to make anyone who doesn't spend all their waking hours tracking blog trends mad. So on that level, purely as an audio object, World is a success. It can fill up a room and turn it into a cool and friendly place (those choosing music for the sales floor of your hip local retailer are sure to notice these qualities).
Like a lot of young producers in the electro-pop sphere, Bainbridge started out recording covers of songs by favorite artists in order to figure out how it was done. But his songwriting progression since then hasn't kept pace with his technical know-how, and this set runs into trouble when considered outside of pure style. It's telling that the two most memorable melodies on World come from other writers, and oddly, the chosen covers have something to bother people on both sides of the Atlantic. "Anyone Can Fall in Love" is a 1986 UK hit by actress Anita Dobson, and it was the theme song to the show she starred in, "EastEnders". While I have no associations with "Anyone Can Fall in Love", as heard here it comes over as pretty but ultimately cloying and silly, an unearned stab at at soul-driven tenderness....full text
MusicomhKindness, the alias of UK producer Adam Bainbridge, has been shrouded in mystery ever since he first emerged on a wave of hype back in 2009 before promptly vanishing soon after. In that time away he has been holed up in Paris with Grammy award winning producer Phillipe Zdar making his debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind and it is a curious, and frequently brilliant reminder of why Bainbridge was so feted.
Kindness’ music is a potent mix of late '70s/early '80s funk and disco and the kind of hazy minimalist pop popularised by the likes of Ariel Pink and Toro Y Moi. World, You Need A Change Of Mind can be described as a dance floor record but it is one haunted by a spectral quality; there is often a tinge of sadness to Bainbridge’s rhythmic grooves. As with most of the best dance music there is always a hint of melancholy, even in the most exuberant sounds.
The dance floor is explicitly referenced in the opening track Seod. Setting the tone for the album with a very slick and smooth sound featuring guitar solos, twinkling synths and a nice minimal groove, it is a paean to the joys of letting it all go down at the disco. Yet there is a wistful tone as Bainbridge croons “Twisting on the dance floor, I wished it last forever”. The previous single, a cover of The Replacements' Swingin’ Party, still sounds glorious and is an example of Kindness’ rather more outré take on electronic pop. It takes an inventive mind indeed to turn Paul Westerberg's guitar pop into a piece of inventive electro and its propulsive arpeggiated synths, coupled with Bainbridge’s mournful vocals, give it a real tone of aching sadness.
Even stranger still is Gee Wiz, which is perhaps the most basic track here. Over nothing more than a simple bass groove and some loose and fidgety funk guitar, a whole wave of spacey and eerie vocal sounds come floating in off the ether, combining to give the track a truly entrancing quality. It’s all deeply strange yet captivating stuff.
It is clear that Bainbridge is a real aficionado of all things disco and funk, and the more upbeat straight-up funk workout of Gee Up is particularly effective. The track bursts into an impossibly addictive rhythmic groove before fading out almost as quickly as it came in. It is a very clever trick to give the listener just a fleeting moment of exuberance and is an example of Bainbridge’s clever use of dynamics, a repeated theme of the album....full text
NmeKindness – aka Adam Bainbridge – appeared in August 2009 with a wicked cover of The Replacements’ ‘Swingin’ Party’, then vanished. Amid the smartly rendered pastiche of this debut, Bainbridge references Prince and Janet Jackson, yet turns those joyous sounds unpleasantly arch.
His lyrics are knowingly banal (“Baby, I can’t wait any longer”, on ‘Bombastic’), his voice unaffecting, and anyone peddling semi-ironic covers of the fucking EastEnders theme deserves to lose their fingers. However, the bass on ‘SEOD’ rattles the skins of your eyeballs, and it’s in the production that this dreary affair occasionally explodes into colour....full text
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