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The KVB - Tremors (Album Review)

Friday, 19 April 2024 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Mila F. 

The KVB have been releasing albums for more than a decade now, but the duo continue to fly under the radar. It’s a shame, as the self-styled “dystopian pop” of their seventh LP ‘Tremors’ is mighty rewarding, pulling in a blend of post-punk, industrial and darkwave, often with a danceable element. 

In fact, Nicholas Wood and Kat Day have produced a constant stream of impressive records since ‘Always Then’ landed in 2012, and ‘Tremors’ reflects a return to their roots, if not as sonically sparse. There is a distinct tone here that evokes memories of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Britain was a disillusioned, bleak place.

A microcosm of the album in both name and style, opener Negative Drive begins with a pounding bass drum, serving up a dark, brooding cut built on a singular synth hook and bitingly jealous lyrics.

A Thirst, meanwhile, throws out a grating, abrasively reedy synth line akin to someone scraping nails down a blackboard — it’s uncomfortable stuff, but elsewhere things are more upbeat.

Words is an infectious number that recalls Moon Duo and this vibe continues into the title track, where a mesmerising, hip-shaking bassline takes hold. Throughout, Wood’s vocals dominate, with Day providing barely audible backing vocals. This hushed, almost whispered style remains constant, which does mean there’s little variation vocally.

Anton Newcombe — a noted KVB champion — could easily have provided the guitar part for In the Silence, where a dark beat prevails, while Labyrinths takes a further step into the gloaming, sounding menacing and sinister. After a brief lull courtesy of Tremors (Reprise) and the mediocre Overload, Dead of Night channels peak-misery Depeche Mode, switching out a powerful Dave Gahan-style vocal in favour of a pulsing beat that provides a compelling backdrop.

Most tracks here are short, clocking in around the three minute mark, but closer Deep End makes more of its clipped lifespan than its peers. Packing in another nod to Depeche Mode, it hits on a perfect sonic groove that you could stick on loop without becoming sick of it. It’s a stunning conclusion.

Loneliness and isolation are overarching themes on ‘Tremors’, yet the KVB’s ability to make them into something you can actually move to is a unique achievement. As such, it is possibly the most appealing album they have released to date and a must-have for fans of any of their influences.


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