By Kid iD
'Black Comedy,' the debut EP from Leeds' Kid iD, is four folk-orientated tracks, where each song sets out to show a different facet of Kid iD's chosen genre. 'Love Is' is languid, jazz club cool, while 'Comic Crutch' takes a more ramshackle and quirky approach to folk. The only two songs that could be accused of sounding similar, are the acoustic ballads 'Black Comedy' and 'Colours of Love.'
The strongest of the two acoustic-led tracks, 'Black Comedy' is sublimely easy on the ear. The vocals are partially hidden behind a shimmer of distortion, and the brisk acoustic guitar is placed slightly lower in the mix, smoothing out any clunking edges. Even the percussion is relegated to a soft, background bump, although the drums do growl louder on the more upbeat choruses.
While this should be a recipe for boredom, 'Black Comedy' isn't short on character. Frontman Ralph Pelleymounter always puts an unusual spin on his vocals, whether he's pattering out some brisk lyrics or breaking out into an oddly-inflected holler, his vocals will keep you on your toes, and consequently 'Black Comedy' won't pass by in a blur.
'Black Comedy' makes one last bid to make an impression on the listener, with an end-section of military drum-rolls and some very mature and melodrama-shunning strings. 'Black Comedy' is one meandering, folky track that carries just enough clout to lift it from the realms of 'nice, but forgettable' and make it memorable.
Sadly, the same can't be said for plodding acoustic number 'Colours of Love,' which is easily the EP's weakest offering. While the guitars are pretty enough, that's nothing out of the ordinary in the context of this EP. But, it's the vocals where things really go wrong, as Pelleymounter tries to sound dreamy and vague, but actually ends up sounding bored. Each line drags its feet, and chances are your attention will have wandered before Pelleymounter gets to the end of the first sentence.
Thankfully, Kid iD get back on track with the rough-and-ready country of 'Comic Crutch.' Following a quirky introduction of multi-layered, harmonised vocals that hark back to the days of barbershop quartets, 'Comic Crutch' lurches into a verse of bone-shaking guitars. Just when you're in danger of getting accustomed to those clunking rhythms, Kid iD bring out that old country favourite, the cowbell, and bash out some purposefully duff-sounding chords on the guitar. If you're a fan of live-sounding, back-to-basics acoustic ditties, then 'Comic Crutch' is for you.
However, if you're not a fan of being jarred and bumped by a song, then the chorus of 'Comic Crutch' administers a shot of easy melody. The "whoooo, whoooo" backing vocals are both pop-music catchy, and chillingly atmospheric, while the drums are a rumbling build-up that'll have you anticipating some dramatic peak. When the chorus does reach its zenith, it turns out to be a handful of twangy chords and a quick rattle of the cowbell, before it's back to those jerking verses. It's unexpected enough to not feel like an anticlimax. 'Comic Crutch' is simple and shambolic folk with an easy, melodic chorus, and a few surprises along the way.
The cheerful trumpet at the beginning of 'Love Is' is in stark contrast to everything else on this EP. And the rest of 'Love Is' is equally individual, as it slips into a slick, jazzy groove where Pelleymounter's winding vocals lead the way. Although some clattering acoustic guitars and short, sharp drum-rolls help pad out the verses, the main focus is on Pelleymounter's vocals and the trumpet flourishes.
Kid iD wisely kick 'Love Is' into second gear for the jangling, Mediterranean-influenced choruses, which sound even more fun after the poised cool of the verses. But, ultimately 'Love Is' leaves you with a smile on your face, as the drums and the trumpet turn out an end-section of oooom-pa, oooom-pa, carnival beats.
'Black Comedy' isn't an EP that screams for your attention. Even the two strongest songs - 'Black Comedy' and 'Love Is' - take multiple listens before they win you over. But, what's really impressive about Kid iD, is the variety they manage to pack into four songs, and that's what'll get you excited about their forthcoming full-length.