If I had to choose one word to describe Death in the Afternoon’s Kino, it would be atmospheric. The newly released album brings to light the fact that sometimes setting is equally as important as the music itself.
The first time I listened through all 11 songs of the Swedish band’s album, I was busy running errands and such so for the most part I just skimmed the songs. My impression was, “Oh great, another European synth pop album.” I was about to write it off altogether, but for one reason or another I decided to give it a second chance. After listening to it a second time, I’ve started to understand the album’s story.
The band says that the influence for Kino came from “80’s movie soundtracks and French cinema from the 30’s and 40’s.” These influences really didn’t come to the surface for me until about the seventh track entitled “J (L) G.” A short, simple solo piano piece, it is in high contrast with the syth influences throughout the album, but to me it is probably the most important song.
It put the rest of the album in perspective. Instead of just hearing the other songs, I started to imagine what kind of backdrop these songs could be in. I’ve never been to France, but based on what I’ve seen in films, and the parts of Europe I have seen, I can imagine young artistic types wandering the French coastline with the calming, electronic melodies of Death in the Afternoon trailing their footsteps. The songs carry enough variety in the songs that I could imagine that same twenty something in a Parisian night club.
The only downside to the album are that the vocals are very quiet, to the point where you can’t decipher the lyrics. But in some way it adds to the melody of the songs, as if what the lyrics are saying isn’t as important as how it makes you feel.
The four piece band has definitely surprised me, and I think the album will be a refreshing surprise to other listeners as well.