Red Kite is former Cooper Temple Clause guitarist Daniel Fisher’s new-ish band. New-ish because the past ten years has apparently been alternately committed to day jobs in libraries and IT and “writing and rewriting and quitting and pledging my allegiance to music and cursing it the whole time”. Unfortunately, rather than this fuelling a passion for the music of second album Racquets, it seems to have fed into an overall feeling of confusion and indecision. Every song feels overthought and overworked. Opener ‘Let Go The Line’ is possibly the strongest track, but it’s three minutes worth of ideas dragged out for over six minutes.
Inspiration is scattered over the record, with ‘Kite and Crow’ and ‘Black Freighter’ doing a woozy bluesy thing that breaks up the by-numbers indie rock of most of the record. Those tracks sandwich ‘If We Buy A Trainset’, which sets a deliciously beefy guitar line against some hazy vocals and crashing drums. Despite being an absolute highlight of the record, it brings nothing more to mind than a mid-period Feeder b-side, except about buying trainsets. Halfway through the production goes glitchy and interesting, and previous track ‘Kite and Crow’ builds some sweet atmospherics with its birdsong samples, but it’s not really enough to do anything more than snag the ear.
By the end of the record they’re covering Philip Glass of all people, reworking his ‘Facades’ into ‘Fuzzards’, replacing the slicing strings with, well, guitar fuzz. The melody of Glass’ original builds with woodwind but here it all blurs into one, straining for krautrock hypnotics and not quite making it. Racquet is a frustrating listen. The drums power the stronger moments, giving tracks like ‘Let Go The Line’ a propulsion they sorely need, but the uninspired melodies and lyrics weight the whole thing down. ‘And Yet You Miss The Sea’ actually includes the line “Went on Reddit/Did an AMA”, but it’s not as bad as‘Federal Government’, the absolute nadir of the record. It alternates between strummed guitar and vocals that sound like they’re across the other side of the room and lumpen choruses. Apparently it was inspired by (and I quote from the press release) “the retch-inducing sight of Russell Brand’s rebranding as political spokesman for the selfie generation”, which is a lot to unpack without busting my wordcount, so let’s just say it doesn’t come across quite as “old man yells at cloud” on record. The worst thing about this album is that (‘Federal Government’ aside) there’s nothing actively bad about it. There’s just nothing memorable either.
Racquet is out now on Blood Records.