Simple pleasures make me instantly happy; the dog waking me up by licking my elbow to tell me it's time to let her out, the same dog finding her frisbee in the park (she's blind you know!), back to back episodes of Time Team, a brew made by somebody else, getting more correct answers than University Challenge contestants; they all rank highly in the instant smiles stakes for me.
Many moons ago listening to feel-good House music did the same thing. Big Beat too, for the short time it was with us, pressed the same button. Anything I could dance to that made me smile like a mad man was my tonic. Ten years back I was recording vocals for a friend trying to launch a career as a producer. There was me, my classically trained voice (long story - some other time!) belting out lines like "I've been away too long" and "I can't live like that, baby" over and over until he had the take he wanted; a take he'd then re-work, distort, fiddle with, bend and add effects to, to the point I didn't recognise myself.
Listening to electronic music petered out for me around the time I stopped throwing house parties, going to clubs and singing for my friend. It's no coincidence I was busy re-discovering my inner indie-kid back then but ultimately my relationship with dance music was over; we both wanted different things. Nowadays I hear the odd song, occasionally dip my toe and thanks to a friend I get to hear some new stuff I like. Recently I heard a Kidda tune; realised Skint Records were involved and thought, yeah - let's give the album a try.
There's such a happy vibe you'll struggle to miss at Hotel Radio; it's infectively positive and every track does its bit to lift you up and up. Melodic, perfectly produced and radio-friendly in length; the album comprises ten mini adventures of pop-dance joy. My only criticism is the joy ends too quickly at little over 33 minutes long. Now for all I know, there's been a study that proves smiling at anything for too long is bad for your health and there's a limit to how long you should hold a cute kitten, smile at a friend's child rasping or listen to a Kidda album. So at the risk of sounding ignorant I'll forgive the album this one shortcoming and just be happy about the joy those 33 minutes bring. If you want uplifting; give Kidda a blast. If you want to put something fun on for the little ones to dance to so you can all have a laugh; put Kidda on. If you want to try something you though you wouldn't like; this is for you.
"The Whistler" is the second single taken from the album and the first Kidda tune I'd heard, so I guess it was always likely to be one of my favourite moments. There's a more grown up vibe here but it doesn't lose the direction of the album and the female vocals are exquisite. Back in the day I used to love the high quality of female vocals in dance music and this left me fondly remembering tunes by the likes of Midfield General's "Reach Out" and Aldo Vanucci's "When I See You Smile". Different memories were evoked elsewhere; "Hangin Around" demonstrates a production sense very much of now but with a vibe of 80s pop not far from Janet Jackson in the intro and - I suppose I'm admitting to a guilty pleasure here - that's actually alright by me.
It's nice to hear this sort of music without sampled hooks driving the tune. I reckon that originality adds to the freshness and happiness dished-out by the tracks. That said there are tunes that reminded me of other artists here and there but those flashes which "sound a bit like..." are gone before you realise it. "Get Close" (another personal favourite) shows off a dirtier, more compressed synth sound not far removed from Daft Punk, "Down 4 U" has a slice of Space Cowboy and Mint Royale in equal portion with its vocoder verse and gospel like chorus and the first single taken from the album, "Wanna Be Loved", has a Eurovision element about it. (Sorry, I can't admit to liking either Eurovision or this song that much - I just needed to clear that up).
A big night out at a club often ended in big hugs all-round for my friends and I, and I got one, sonically speaking, with closing track "Take Care of Yourself". It's the natural way for the album to end; happy and loved-up. No matter how short the trip to Hotel Radio might feel; the good thing is you can always come back. So what if I'm making my own brews today, if my elbow's dry or if there's no archaeology to dig on telly - after listening to Hotel Radio I'm happy enough. This dog's been away and he's got a new Frisbee!
HEADS WE DANCE are "pushing all the right buttons... speaker gold dust" - (Mixmag July 2009)