Sound — 9
Roughly speaking, I think our music tastes are determined by two halves of the same brain space - one half evaluates "quality", based on originality, musicianship and other such factors, while the other half will happily jump around a room to a bit of "YMCA". Being a guitar website, a lot of us tend to plump for the former whilst pretending the latter doesn't exist. Since that often results in bouts of pretension and sweaty teen rage, imagine my joy when a band that could satisfy both parties presented itself! That's The Reign Of Kindo - sinking glorious hooks into an equally glorious jazzy backdrop since 2006. But wait! This isn't anything like The Village People! True enough, "This Is What Happens" does seem pretty subdued at first. Initial listens feel like musical sunbathing; letting the warm, Gretschy guitar tones wash over you while you remain distinctly passive. Once you've come to understand and accept, however, that the balance has changed, and jazz has taken precedence over rock, that's when it all comes good. The lively, King Crimson-esque workouts ("Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind") are reasonably exciting, but the best tracks are far less erratic; they're vehicles for lyrics, firmly rooted by creative piano playing and revelling in the peace and quiet. The band's knack for duality is accentuated at these times; the songs can engage you just as effectively as they can cloud your head with the aroma of cigar smoke and fine liquor.
Lyrics — 9
It's tough to strike a balance between depth and humility, but vocalist and lyricist Joseph Secchiaroli seems as much a natural at it as he does at, well, anything else he tries his hand at in The Reign Of Kindo. Thanks to lighter instrumental textures, his words claim a little more limelight than on the debut (2008's "Rhythm, Chord & Melody") but he rises to the challenge with aplomb. Songs on heartache, adulthood and living life return with just the right dosage of gloom, and even at its darkest - the polarity between the ostensibly similar instrumental and vocal sections of "City Lights & Traffic Sounds" is crushing - all things are handled with elegance and, above all, the song in mind.
Overall Impression — 9
On second thoughts, maybe it's not the best idea to tag "This Is What Happens" as accessible to the extent that their other material is. It takes a good ten or so listens (not that it ever neglects to invite you back) to really embed itself and reveal its true colours: colours forming a spectrum, with thirteen snippets of life selected from it and turned into song. The Reign Of Kindo are one of the most promising new bands to have emerged in the last few years, and even if you don't want to join the party, you should at least chill in the back room - Lord knows that's where the best music will be playing.