Kidsmoke’s debut album, A Vision in the Dark, is an ode to dreamy indie pop with jangly guitars and ethereal vocals – perfect for a midsummer’s night and released just in time for this year’s midsummer.
The album has a pastoral quality overall and evokes images of sipping wine in the archipelago. Perhaps a very specific metaphor, but it is a credit to the album that its soundscape is strong enough to paint such a vivid picture. It also seems like the perfect album to feature in young adult dramas like Netflix’s Sex Education, or 13 Reasons Why. It’s a little bit moody and wishful, and somehow retro enough to feel fresh and young at the same time. I keep finding these kinds of paradoxes throughout the album – retro but fresh, sad but happy, yearning but present – that keep drawing me back into it.
A Vision in the Dark opens strong with ‘Passenger’ and ‘Layla’s Love’. You know what kind of music you’re getting, and whether or not it’s your thing straight away. Even though I’ve been quite taken by ‘Passenger’, my favourite track of the album is ‘She Takes You Under’, which is reminiscent of mid-1960s pop with just enough phasing to make it interesting (but not enough to make you dizzy). Both tracks have a drive and energy to them, and just a touch of melancholy. I can’t decide if they make me feel happy or forlorn, but I like trying to figure it out.
Towards the end of the album, I find myself wanting something a little different, though. Something a little bit more direct as a change of pace. Similarly, my main critique of the album is that unless you’re paying attention, it’s easy to miss where one track ends and the next one starts, although that might be a good thing if you’re sipping wine during midsummer. For that reason, I wonder how long I’ll keep returning to the album. Some of the tracks will definitely end up on my playlist, but I wonder how many midsummers we’ll end up spending together on that wistful, imaginary shore.
For this midsummer, though, it’s a solid four stars.
A Vision in the Dark is out next Friday 19th June. Pre order it here.