Not afraid of typecasting, then…
Patrick St. Michel: Plenty of outlets have already compared Kate Boy to The Knife, and it’s a valid point once you hear the ping-ponging synths early on or the more jagged production details that emerge midway through “Northern Lights.” That and, uh, both are Swedish (or feature a Swedish member). Yet this is less shadowy than anything that appeared on Silent Shout, Kate Akhurst’s vocals sounding relatively clear here. This certainly takes influence from that other duo, but opts for something more straightforward than the creepiness of The Knife’s big breakout album.
Doug Robertson: Because harking back to eighties femme-fronted futurism has proven so successful in the past, here’s someone riding alongside the bandwagon. Which isn’t to say this is yet another slab of uninspired electronica, because it’s not. Sure, it knows its reference points and influences, but there’s enough originality within its dark bounces and starlight tinged stabs of melted melody to help them sound like a band in their own right, not just yet another genre surfer.
Iain Mew: The prowling bassline, the threat Kate Boy brings to “feel the ice white heat” and the way that the chorus turning to gold encompasses the full Midas joy and despair are all great. The number one thing I’m taking away from “Northern Lights”, though, is that I would love almost any song with such huge wobbly bubbles of synth. When they burst everywhere at the end it’s overwhelming.
Alfred Soto: We can’t have enough songs evoking Nu Shooz’s “I Can’t Wait,” but we can have too many singers sounding like Gwen Stefani. Or maybe it’s Lene Lovich, whom I don’t like either. Still, a fabulous job programming those synths and loops.
Will Adams: Waiter? More ugly synths, please!
Alex Ostroff: I’m smart enough to know when I’m being played. The ping-pong synths. The spiraling video game effects. The vague intimations of Swedishness. The ominously-intoned vocals. The slow build pre-chorus and the euphoric explosion of everything we touch turning to gold. But the thing is, it does. This is a bag of tricks used plenty of times before, to both greater and lesser effect, and Kate Boy know exactly which buttons they want to press, and they hit their marks.
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Producers Rocket Boy craft a rambunctious synth-pop song that plays moody for effect, particularly as they implement abrasive key stabs over the chorus. As jagged as they sound, they remind me of videogame SFX, like Sonic’s underwater sound effects. It’s cute. Kate Akhurst’s nasal vocal, however, feels a little rushed, a few demos short of reaching the grandness of the song’s ending, as the music surges ahead of her, rendering her vocals an afterthought.
Anthony Easton: Sometimes when I fuck, I forget to speak — just concentrating on my body too much, and the words disappear. The last minute or so of this, when the words stop and the noise just rests on a tinsel cloud of metallic pleasure, reminds me.