Sound — 9
The Reign of Kindo is a jazz rock band from Buffalo, New York. If you haven't listened to them yet, you've been missing out. The latest offering from the band, "Play With Fire," has a wonderful sound that mixes jazz fusion, indie, and progressive rock. There are syncopated drum beats galore, intricate piano melodies, soaring guitar leads, and driving funk bass lines. For listeners already accustomed to Kindo's signature sound, one of the most noticeable change ups is the increased prominence of horn parts on the album. The additional brass puts the jazz element more into the spotlight, although Kindo has always had jazz at it's heart. This is the first album the band has written without former pianist Kelly Sciandra, but Danny Pizzaro Jr. steps up to the plate and fills the large shoes left behind with impressive finesse. As always, the piano parts and drums (along with the stellar vocals) are the highlights of the album, with Steven Padin unleashing some of his tightest grooves yet. However, there is a significant bit more guitar soloing being done on this album, which is surely welcome. "Help It" in particular stands out in this department. There are many times where the guitar tone is so smooth that it is difficult to tell which leads are being played on the six string and which by the brass. Another Kindo tradition that is continued on "Play With Fire" is the referencing of melodies in older songs. Specifically, the bridge of "Sing When No One's Around" bears quite a resemblance to the main melody of "Morning Cloud" off "Rhythm, Chord & Melody." Check it out and see if you notice!
Lyrics — 8
A wide variety of topics are covered on the album. Each track seems to stick to a consistent theme all the way through, such as religion (the opener and closer), love and romance ("Feeling in the Night" and "Romancing a Stranger"), and critiquing the current state of popular music and the masses that eat it up ("I Hate Music"). My favorite lines come from that track. "Whoever puts that garbage on the air must love the smell" and "You were making magic or you couldn't make nothing at all." The latter of these referencing the perceived dip in the standard of quality of what can become a popular single. A sentiment that I agree with. Joey Secchiaroli brings the vocals to life with his smooth and consistent phrasing, often bringing show tunes or vocal jazz to mind with the way he changes the pitch of his voice to match every delicious chord change. The backing vocals on the album are also well done, and contribute to the grandness of the whole affair. The closing track boasts choral vocals that make the track the epic conclusion that it is.
Overall Impression — 9
This album holds up very strongly to their previous releases, and in many ways surpasses them. It manages to be more diverse and more focused simultaneously. While the self titled EP, "Rhythm, Chord & Melody," and "This Is What Happens" all contained several gems, "Play With Fire" is the most consistent yet. For me, the most standout tracks are "The Hero, The Saint, The Tyrant, and The Terrorist," "Dust," and "I Hate Music," but I honestly don't consider any of the songs to be weak. The Reign of Kindo has taken a bold step forward with their third full length, and the future for the jazz rock group looks bright indeed.