Label: Sub Pop
Released: 22nd January 2021
Kiwi Jr. are still the Canadian four-piece making jangly indie tunes, but on their second album, they have developed their sound beyond just the guitars – although these do return – creating a soundscape to fill a saloon, and match its tone sonically as well.
The band have certainly made the most of 2020 by producing this album themselves, but the material was mostly written before the pandemic hit, despite a couple of ever more relevant themes popping up, such as in ‘Undecided Voters’. ‘Highlights of 100’ also spews out as much commentary on the year as possible in a fast-paced and chaotic banger that is seemingly reactionary to and reflective of the times we live in.
Though the instantly recognisable sound of guitar-driven indie-rock is ever-present, the soundscape across all 13 tracks is bigger and clearly more ambitious, but this does sometimes lead to things sounding a bit messy.
The whimsical and quirky nature of their sound has almost taken over since their debut record, which only just dropped in early 2020. Kiwi Jr. have also taken things in a more experimental lyrical direction, each song an intense and isolated story. Although this keeps things fresh and brings up some interesting topics – especially with the ridiculously specific scenario presented in ‘Only Here For A Haircut’ – it leads to a lack of thematic consistency that disrupts the album’s flow.
There are certainly some interesting tracks on this follow-up record, but unfortunately, the cohesiveness isn’t there; be it within each song’s structure, or across the whole record’s thematic grounding, there’s never enough put into a singular idea to really make an impact.