Music Reviews

Kind of Like Spitting

Bridges Worth Burning

Barsuk

Springing back from the uninspired self-titled acoustic rarities album released last year, Portland’s Kind of Like Spitting is close to top form on Bridges Worth Burning. As a subtle nod in the direction of what seems to be an uncharacteristic influence, the album is dedicated to Chuck Schuldiner, frontman for the original death-metal band Death, who died of a brain tumor in December.

The songs on Bridges bear strong similarities to those of 764-HERO – fashioned out of unsettling minor chords, structured around pauses and builds and cathartic eruptions – and they can be equally as intricate. On the opener, “Passionate,” for instance, you’ll also find the same anguish and desperation in KOLS singer/guitarist Ben Barnett’s voice as you’ll hear from 764’s frontman John Atkins.

But angst is quite the commodity in today’s music scene. Is Barnett truly a dismayed idealist, at once manic and melancholy, or is he trying to tap in to an aimless yearning for melodrama? The answer, I think, lies in a song like “Born Beautiful.” It isn’t rife with the commercialized angst of Papa Roach (i.e., “the world’s against me and I hate you”); more along the frustrated, poignant lines of Radiohead (i.e., “the world is all wrong but I want so badly to fix it”). Sings Barnett: “It’s a classless kind of fate / It holds its ground in the way that death just makes you wait… / All the hope that gets shafted / To bet on the good life.” Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, who also shows exceptional skill as the drummer on the album, vocally backs these harsh laments. Further along comes “Canaries,” an acoustic track full of seething one-liners: “You’re waiting to grow some new life from retrospect” and “your demons are fucking huge and you stack the deck to lose.” This clearly isn’t the work of a man posing as the underdog while rubbing his hands in anticipation of the dollar signs, but someone who believes what he’s singing and can articulate it with wit, someone who has a personal score to settle before it drives him mad. This is also the reason why Kind of Like Spitting fits in with the Pacific Northwest music scene so well, and what makes the music on Bridges Worth Burning such an indulgent pleasure for the jilted, the disaffected, and the disappointed.

Incidentally, Chris Walla (also of Death Cab For Cutie) plays second guitar on “Continent” and “Following Days”; Bridges was recorded at his studio, Hall Of Justice. He and Gibbard – their names seem to be on every other album that comes out of Seattle – each deserve a hand for playing such an important role in supporting the NW indie rock scene, one that is brimming with talented, under-appreciated bands such as Kind of Like Spitting. Bridges Worth Burning is proof of that.

Barsuk Records: http://www.barsuk.com/


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