Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Kate Boy – Self Control

It looks like they’re aware of the video, too.


Jessica Doyle: This space was cleared for some lazy you’re-no-Jack-Kennedy jokes — and then it turned out that Kate Boy was not only aware of the beautiful trembling dramatic space that is Laura Branigan’s “Self Control,” but could insert herself into it and even offer a possible rebuke to the original narrator. Passivity is not submission, and abdication of personal responsibility is not a shortcut to passion. And yet somehow Kate Boy pulls off this critique without coming off as cold or stronger-than-thou. Listening makes me wants to rise to her challenge.

Alfred Soto: Compressed, coiled guitar straight out of an xx song, a vocal spooky-beautiful like Fever Ray’s, and a title stolen from Laura Branigan’s magnificent 1984 DOR hit — it’s high concept that works. 

Hazel Robinson: Oh, I’ve seen this woman live. I know because the recording of this song on YouTube showcases her dubious taste in coats. This is the modern young person’s Goldsmiths-Art-College-discovers-early-Madonna pop that’s fairly big in small venues in London at the minute. Possibly she’ll be the next Charli XCX but this song isn’t gonna be the thing that pushes her above the median of the trend.

Patrick St. Michel: I’m not sure if Kate Boy are still doing the shadowy outfit routine anymore or not, but either way it doesn’t matter — their music aims to be as in-the-open as possible. “Self Control” bounces forward on rubbery bass and a march-ready beat, all building up to the best chorus they’ve written to date, a shambling hook that’s not worried about hiding its face at all. It wants to be seen as the shout-along single it is.

Katherine St Asaph: Akhurst’s Jessica Folcker rasp is as compelling as ever, and more ragged in the interim; the choruses still hit like a dry ice blast and sound colder than anything around. The hooks are still half as hooky as they should be.

Anthony Easton: It is so rare that a song’s message fits so tenderly into the song’s production. There is nothing more controlled than the last coda, but it’s a control that comes from self-informed ecstasy. 

Scott Mildenhall: Imagine a Niki & The Dove/Kate Boy collaboration. Yes, it would sound similar to the bulk of their respective “oeuvres,” but that would be the point. Jagged crystals encase Kate Akhurst, and she responds to them in kind — alarmed at the potential for serious injury, and bellowing at the forlorn hope of getting out. They are pretty, though.

Brad Shoup: Songs that pitchshift the lead vocal into the trebly red are probably its own Scandinavian subgenre at this point. I can’t be bothered to consider that further, though, because the line “it’s an invasion on my patience” reminds me of Lansing-Dreiden, and nothing reminds me of Lansing-Dreiden. Regardless, the song’s crisp and unforgiving, concerned with the text and the ways it can be inserted via a gigantic needle.

Ashley Ellerson: I can’t tell if this song is about someone with schizophrenia (“there’s polyphonic voices in my head again”) or simple mental distress resulting from others’ negativity (“a negative topic gives them watering”). Regardless of perspective, we humans ruminate on negative thoughts often and need to give our minds a break. This is a liberation song, for dancing away negativity and staying true to ourselves. 

Will Adams: At this point, Kate Boy have more than infused a sense of control into their artistry. Sporadic releases, a familiar sonic bedding of dusky drums and banshee synths, a monochromatic scheme for all of their videos: there is an eroticism in their tightly wound, almost guarded approach to music that is so appealing to me. “Self Control” sounds like their manifesto, with Kate Akhurst creeping low for the verses and exploding into that self-actualizing chorus. And then there’s the post-chorus, where the title tumbles over and over; where the term is usually used in the negative sense, it becomes a positive here.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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