This is a review of "Kiss Chase" recorded by Runaround Kids. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
The first professional release from Wakefield's Runaround Kids takes a little while to get going, thanks to unnecessary 'introductory' song 'Kiss Chase.' The spine-tingling atmospherics and frontman George Garthwaite's distant, crackling vocals make this sound bizarrely like the soundtrack to an episode of flash-in-the-pan online cartoon sensation Salad Fingers, which makes for um, interesting listening. Thankfully, here the comparisons to Salad Fingers ends, as Runaround Kids launch into first 'proper' track 'In The Gulch.'
'In The Gulch' plays out like one long, slow, buzzsaw riff that gets the under-produced balancing act spot on. It has that bristling edge that'll get fans of 'rough diamond' music salivating, but at the same time it isn't at all unpleasant, meaning that those who usually like their music to be shiny and studio-produced won't be left clutching their ears. However, Garthwaite's yelpy, semi-spoken vocals take some getting used to, and may be a deal-breaker for some. But, as 'Kiss Chase's first 'proper' song, it's an intriguing introduction: unusual, shoegaze vocals; buzzsaw riffs and something of a 36 Degrees/Teenage Angst-era Placebo vibe going on. 'In The Gulch' will have you curious to hear more.
EP-highlight and second track 'Lois Interprets' will have you wondering why you were initially unsure about Runaround Kids. The chorus sticks to the scuzzy riff formula of 'In The Gulch,' but adds a brisk vocal patter, which gives those fuzzy guitars a wickedly sharp, hooky edge. Elsewhere though, 'Lois Interprets' is a little different, with twangy guitar-plucking and foot-stamping drumbeats combining in a rollicking, country-tinged romp.
Just when it seems Runaround Kids have crafted a perfectly-formed piece of indie oddness, they drop the ball with some self-indulgent faffing about, in the form of an overly long instrumental end-section. But, blank that thirty seconds from your mind, and 'Lois Interprets' is an impressive song indeed.
'Ultra-Violence' is the low point of the EP, as it never quite gets into its groove. It's watered down with far too many instrumental passages of skittering guitars and hooky slides, which smacks of a band filling in time before the next chorus. And, when the chorus does kick in, those rasping riffs are on the verge of completely drowning out Garthwaite's unique vocals.
EP-closer 'Clandestines' experiments with a more psychedelic sound, to mixed results. As is the case with 'Ultra-Violence,' there are too many random instrumental sections that kill any sense of momentum. But, when Runaround Kids do treat us to vocals, the combination of Garthwaite's bass droning and heavily-repeated chords, makes for an enjoyable head-twister. Even better, this glimmering, vaguely spacey song suddenly explodes into a shrieking blast of discordant noise, while Garthwaite spits and snarls, in an electric chorus. It's just a shame that, straight afterwards, Runaround Kids subject us to another lazy, meandering instrumental section, before they return to the song proper.
'Lois Interprets' and 'Clandestines' are definitely worth a listen if you like indie-rock with an abrasive edge, and always appreciate an unusual vocal. The other three - and, in particular, that pointless introductory song - are probably best giving a miss, but when it all comes together for Runaround Kids, they're a genuinely exciting, original-sounding band.