Review: KATE BOY – One

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One is an impressive debut, featuring both innovative and confident electronic punches, as well as repetitious, unaware tracks.

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KATE BOY have released their highly-anticipated debut album, and it is an electronic feast, fuelled by punchy, if slightly repetitive, beats and strong, confident vocals, that all make for an intense listening experience.

Opening with ‘Midnight Sun’, One effectively introduces KATE BOY’s electro-pop, energetic and jumpy vibes. Although one of the weaker tracks on the album, the song is efficient in simplistically condensing the essence of the Stockholm-based trio. A gentler beat on the album then begins to erupt in the form of ‘Northern Lights’, a vocally-moody track that follows a more unpredictable route, with less of a formulaic structure that can be found in later songs. One of the highlights of the album, ‘Northern Lights’ is simultaneously robust whilst engaging with stripped-back moments.

‘Lion For Real’ follows, beginning smaller but layering its beats on top of each other to transform into quite an epic and enthralling track. Blending a confident, catchy sound with sci-fi-esque pulses tickling the background, the song is one that epitomises KATE BOY’s knowledge of their own eclectic identity.  ‘Human Engine’ is the peak of the album,  with self-assured electronic beats and waves of lead vocalist Kate Akhurst’s rooted vocals. Later on the album, ‘The Way We Are’ is another track proving the band’s credibility, ending with an intense, dance audible experience, with Akhurst’s vocals adopting a desperate tone, peeling away at her endless vocal ability. These tracks in particular showcase what thematically threads the album’s tracks together – a look into personal evolution and progressiveness, whilst simultaneously reflecting on one’s past. The album negotiates ideas around pushing boundaries and synchronously does it itself in its own musical palette.

‘Higher’ and ‘Self Control’, tracks that fans will have heard before, are the songs that particularly demonstrate Akhurst’s talents. ‘Higher’ effectively utilises Akhurst’s vocal range where it revels in whispers almost turning into growls (evocative of HAIM’s Danielle), along with compellingly authoritative lines. ‘Self Control’ also reveals Akhurst’s incredible abilities, her sound bubbling into roars that idyllically coincide with the track’s electronic synths

As the album does progress, the feeling that the tracks lose their spark as well as seep into becoming one, cannot be shaken. ‘When I Was Young’ and ‘Open Fire’ are amongst the weakest songs, predominantly because they fail to offer anything different, and because of this their fierce electronic vigour becomes just something noisy. Although catchy, they unintentionally sample each other through very similar beats and structure, making it challenging to be captivated as a listener when the first four tracks of the album contained three crackers, setting the bar so high.

One is both fun and dark, and plays with these various binaries. It is an impressive, confident debut, and will be one captivating live. When it reaches its high, it reaches a high unbelievably impressive for a debut. But when it reaches its low, it becomes a source of repetition, where weak tracks blend into each other, unaware of exactly where they desire to end up.

One is out now via Fiction Records.

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Film & English student, Deputy Editor of The Edge and President of FilmSoc. Likes FKA twigs, BANKS and other capitalised artists.

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