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Kiwi Jr. - Chopper (Album Review)

Monday, 22 August 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Laura-Lynn Petrick

Kiwi Jr.’s third album ‘Chopper’ offers a change of pace from the Canadian indie-pop band. In contrast to their 2020 debut ‘Football Money’, there’s less reliance on Byrdsian jangly guitars and slacker-rock poses. The overriding feeling is, appropriately for this time of year, a summery vibe.

Unlike their bow and 2021’s ‘Cooler Returns’, ‘Chopper’ is largely synth-based. Lead single Night Vision isn’t a particularly good indication of what the album is like as a whole, but it’s a striking moment that sounds like Ash venturing into dreamier territory—it’s catchy and the chord structure is extremely satisfying.

There have since been three more singles, all of which are a little more tailored to the album’s general theme. Opener Unspeakable Things is impossibly infectious, a jaunty, sugary keyboard lick at its heart, while The Sound Of Music mixes fact with fiction.

Here the band provide, according to frontman Jeremy Gaudet, a possible scenario that the musical’s main star Julie Andrews may have experienced upon her divorce. Or as Gaudet describes it, “good drama around her life”.

The Extra Sees The Film is the remaining single and is based around another strange idea for a song. Delving into whether or not you are the star of your own movie or (more likely) you’re just an extra in someone else’s, it’s a melancholic piece of storytelling. 

Further highlights include the Strokesy power-pop of Parasite II and Clerical Sleep, a more gentle moment that stars a returning guitar presence that churns and chimes admirably alongside prevalent synths.

The Masked Singer, that garish TV phenomenon, provides the title for the album’s closing relationship reflections, although there could be a little more space for the guitar melody to breathe. An injection of high-octane energy comes in the form of Downtown Area Blues, while Gaudet’s slack vocal delivery dominates Kennedy Curse.

From start to finish, ‘Chopper’ is an invigorating listen. When the band’s focus is on melody they produce their best moments, but even when their minds are elsewhere there’s plenty of stuff going on to capture your attention. Three albums down and Kiwi Jr. are still managing to enhance their reputation.


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