– featured image courtesy of the artist –
“album of the fortnight” is a (recently revived) bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note. the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span. this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction. next up: little kid
This site has extolled the virtues of the toronto-based outfit little kid for much of its existence. while still approaching the band largely from a recording-project perspective, kenny boothby turned in the heavy, complex river of blood in 2013; last summer, after a prolonged, somewhat frustrating period of dormancy, boothby emerged with the sprawling flowers in hand and a solidified line-up in tow. the stability of having a reliable pair of collaborators at hand is perhaps what led to the comparatively quick arrival of sun milk, little kid’s fourth full-length album, which the band self-released last week.
although just seven songs long, sun milk is a daunting, though thoroughly rewarding, body of work to consume. one must traverse all the way to its coda before encountering a track that dips below the five-minute mark, and even then, “like a movie” arguably makes up in gravity what it lacks in length. an exploration of ambient missives and noisy vamps that began on flowers is whittled down on its successor, maybe not to a more precise formula but certainly to one that breathes with the ease of seasoned veterans.
a self-inflicted allergy to electric guitars that afflicted boothby throughout the duration of flowers is immediately vanquished on sun milk; opening number “the fourth” bristles with saturation, as does the album’s centerpiece, “slow death in a warm bed,” ushering in perhaps the flat-out loudest iteration of little kid yet. for a band that has long relied on outsized dynamic contrast for maximum effect, this embrace of grit only makes tracks like the lo-fi piano ballad “fog” that much more potent, as if an aural equivalent of the prodigal son returned and immediately became the workhorse of the entire operation.
perhaps as a reminder that songs do not solely exist within the vacuum of an album cycle, a recent track-by-track guide for gold flake paint deconstructed the various iterations that many songs on sun milk went through, sometimes over the course of years, before arriving in their presently-recorded form. this copious vat of detailed information (highly recommended if this album resonates with you) serves to further underscore the immediacy that little kid has operated under: recording in quick, concentrated bursts, ensnaring whatever feels natural at that moment.
as little kid approaches a decade of existence, patience seems to be an overarching theme worthy of ascribing to the project. the acquisition of both paul vroom and brodie germain as stable members – after years of a rotating cast of characters – has yielded two monumental albums in a row; as the songs on those aforementioned albums grow longer, they unfold with care and determination, and loose, meandering passages are seamlessly tightened up when the moment is right; the inner mechanisms of those aforementioned songs are a wonder to unpack, with arduous three-person synth wranglings, carefully-placed tape hiss, and poignant found sounds threading a lived-in, nostalgic narrative.
little kid is methodical, a songwriting refuge equally capable of volatile bursts of energy and muted, minimal passages of restraint. with sun milk, the trio has crafted its strongest effort yet, a sprawling structure anchored by its sonic forebears and accented with intimate glimpses of a profound lyricist’s tireless explorations. step inside and stay awhile.