Monday, 15 June 2015

KEN mode - 'Success' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/6/2015
Label: Season of Mist

‘Success’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Blessed
2. These Tight Jeans
3. The Owl
4. I Just Liked Fire
5. Management Control
6. A Passive Disaster
7. Failing At Fun Since 1981
8. A Catalog Of Small Disappointments
9. Dead Actors

KEN mode is:

Jesse Matthewson | vocals, guitar
Shane Matthewson | drums
Skot Hamilton | bass, vocals


KEN mode have long been on my radar, but it wasn't until last week that I decided to give their latest LP, ‘Success’, a listen. I was expecting great things – in recent years they had toured with two of my favourite bands, H A R K and Kylesa, an auspicious sign – and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest.

‘Success’ is a big step in the career of this trio from Winnipeg, and an interesting choice of title. A bold assertion, a tongue-in-cheek statement? Whatever it is, it marks the first album from KEN mode as a full time band – the day jobs have been jacked in, and from now on it's serious.

From the outset, it's clear what to expect from the rest of the record. The music bleeds out of your speakers in a fuzzy and abrasive manner, but with plenty of groove and intelligent song writing. The music isn't just straightforward guitars, drums and bass - we are even treated to strings on a quite proggy passage of “The Owl”. As well as sludgier, groovy moments, visceral punk energy is also in abundance on this record, no better exemplified than on ‘I Just Liked Fire’.

The vocals remind me of legendary Welsh underground act Mcclusky who were active at the turn of the century – both jokey and outright aggressive. “I am that scholar of spite” guitarist/vocalist Jesse Matthewson seeths on ‘These Tight Jeans’, who is equally competent at throat shredding howling as he is with more melodic singing. In his more introspective moments he asks “What was the last thing you've done that mattered?” on the closing track of the album. His lyrics are entertaining as well as thought-provoking, and never get boring. ‘Failing at Fun since 1981’ is another excellent composition – singalong choruses, off-kilter and challenging rhythms. The album is topped off with an epic of sorts – ‘Dead Actors’ - arguably the best song on the record.

KEN mode have succeeded in making an album which isn't only fun to listen to but pushes musical boundaries and rewards repeated listens. These Canadians have created a multi-faceted, versatile beast of an album here, which I'm certain will appeal to a great number of the readers of The Sludgelord. Highly recommended. 

Words by: Jack Taylor

‘Success’ is available here

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