Kristin Kontrol X-COMMUNICATE - Vinyl

Kristin Kontrol


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Over a busy six-year period, Dum Dum Girls had an impressive run of singles, EPs, and albums, but after their last record, 2014's Too True, the band's guiding light was beginning to burn out. Dee Dee decided to leave behind the band's fuzzy, girl group-inspired sound and name in favor of a revamped sound and a new name, Kristin Kontrol. Reaching back to the R&B and chart pop of the '80s and '90s, she began writing new songs with the idea that she'd be "Kate Bush covering Mariah." X-Communicate isn't too far from that idea. Working with producers Kurt Feldman and Andrew Miller, they created a slick, synth-heavy sound that provides a perfect backdrop for her smoky vocals and deeply felt lyrics. The last Dum Dum Girls record was leaning in a darker, slicker direction anyway, and this feels more like a natural progression instead of a leap into the unknown. The songs jump from pumping breakbeat pop ("Skin Shed") that sounds like Cathy Dennis on her saddest day to epic movie montage ballads ("Smoke Rings"), and from rumbling electro-rock complete with super-processed guitars ("White Street") to shimmering synth pop ("X-Communicate") and trip-hop lite ("Going Thru the Motions") that sounds oddly like a darkest timeline Amy Grant. No matter the style or the sound, Dee Dee/Kristin's way with a melody and her aching melancholy come through like a beacon. Her voice is always up to the task, and if at times she sounded reined in by the stylistic constraints of the Dum Dum Girls, here she sounds freer and much more expressive. Every avenue she and her producers explore pays off with richly arranged, sonically interesting songs that have a real beating heart prominently attached. It's a really impressive accomplishment to pull off a mid-career sea change as smoothly and successfully as Kristin has here. X-Communicate is not only an impressive debut for her new persona, it also is a statement of intent. There are a lot of singers and bands working in this kind of '80s-'90s retro vein, from Chvrches to HAIM and all points in between. With this album, Kristin Kontrol makes claim to the top tier, and if she continues to make records this powerfully good, she may find herself alone at the top before too long. ~ Tim Sendra

  • Format: Vinyl
  • Genre: Pop

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