I don’t often have a hard time coming up with words. But, I will confess that I’ve been avoiding writing this post, mainly because I don’t know how to fairly write a review of the Saints of Valory’s new EP, Kids. The fact of the matter is, I’m completely in love with their music, and I find it very hard to be objective.
So, to heck with avoiding journalistic bias…I’m going to take the advice of one of their lyrics and “Just say what you feel!”
If the goal of music is to evoke emotion and inspire connection, then Kids is a gorgeous success. This little group of six songs is nothing short of intrepid – it will leave you smiling, dancing, remembering your past and loving your present. Lead by aerobatic vocals and memorable lyrics, the EP thrums with sweet, sing-along harmonies and is punctuated by an absolutely impeccable percussion. Toss in a few ripping guitar solos, and a singer who tears it up on bass just as equally as he lets loose with his singing, and it may just be perfect. It’s an album that you put on and before you know it, it’s played five times in a row and the songs have penetrated your brain by osmosis. How do you know? You find yourself humming the them at your desk, causing near-fatal wrecks to clap along in your car, and subconsciously singing them at the grocery store before you realize that the little old lady buying green beans next to you is looking at you a little strangely…
There’s no warming up, it just gets right in your face with a killer opening drum sequence that launches the EP’s title track, “Kids.” (Aside: live, it’s even more epic – drummer Gerard Bouvier is whaling the heck out of the kit while lead guitarist Godfrey Thomson and keyboardist Stephen Buckle simultaneously tar the heck out of some floor toms). Lead singer Gavin Jasper invites you to experience the music with him, crooning, “Welcome to my story, to the story of my life…” and telling the tale of being “just kids, with our hopes, with our dreams, with our faults,” you’re right there, remembering when you were just a kid, too.
“Kids” is followed by the “More Dancing, Less Falling,” a delectable lyrical morsel which is sure to become a summer anthem for a large majority of their fans. And by God, I do find myself dancing when this song is playing! Sandwiched in the middle are the EP’s two most mainstream tracks, and the ones that are likely to inspire the most earworms – the fast-paced “Sweetest Sin” and a reprise of “Neon Eyes.” With added layers of drums and guitars, “Neon Eyes” is now an amped up version of the acoustic track released earlier in 2011, but it retains its signature – and incredibly infectious – hand-clap rhythm.
When I first heard “City, City,” a mellow love song to the band’s home town of Austin, I didn’t love it. But it’s grown on me, and being a lover of Austin myself, I can completely relate to it. Stephen’s key work on this track is really spotlighted…the dude doesn’t get enough love for how freaking fabulous he is. “Watch It Burn,” probably my favorite track on the EP, is the perfect end cap – it somehow feels like a culmination and a fresh start at once. It starts slow, but then quickly ramps up and showcases brilliant guitar playing from Godfrey. The song doesn’t end as much as it crashes, finishing with building guitar that screeches to a halt and one final cymbal hit, closing the EP where it started on the drum kit. And just like that, the EP is over…and you’re a little sad.
In today’s musical landscape, it’s rare to find artists that truly have the chops to back up their music. Auto-tune, fancy editing software and production have become the norm, but with Saints of Valory, you get an absolutely true-to-life representation of their musical abilities…and Kids showcases exactly how much the Saints have to offer. They’re able to write songs that are fresh and familiar all at the same time, which is why you hear so many people call them “radio ready” and compare them to Coldplay and the Killers, I think. However, Saints of Valory’s songs have something more for me, something that brings them to life in a much bigger way – heart and passion.
And that, my friends, is what makes Kids so utterly bombastic and loveable. Heart.