“Night of My Death,” the first track on the Detachment Kit’s new album, Of This Blood, is the last thing anyone would expect from the abrasive Chicago band. Sounding like something off of a Neutral Milk Hotel or Sufjan Stevens album, the brief introductory song is a blend of trumpet, acoustic guitar and “la-la-la”s — not at all what fans of the Kit are used to. On the contrary, The Detachment Kit’s first album, They Raging, Quiet Army was a bombastic hybrid of Les Savy Fav’s wiseass angularity and The Pixies’ raw intensity. And now, quirky psychedelic folk?
Well, before you go and demand your money back, check out track two, “Skyscrapers.” A dreamy, fingertapped intro gives way to a gigantic, powerful three and a half minutes of distortion and drum fills. If “Sitting Still, Talking About Jets” didn’t already exist, I’d say it’s the band’s first anthem. But most importantly, it’s punk rock the way you like The Detachment Kit to play it, only better.
Though “Night of My Death” is the only obvious curveball on the album, the New York by-way-of Chicago by-way-of Tennessee group does throw in some subtle surprises. First off, the album art is downright silly. Once the cd jacket is folded out, it depicts a large board game in which you have to save the twins (band members Ian and Charlie) from Queen Beaktapus (???). And what’s more, it’s all drawn in colored pencils.
But you don’t buy records for cover art (do you?). The 14 songs on Of This Blood see-saw between manic rockers, gentle indie pop and the occasional dance tune. When The Detachment Kit rocks, they rock (“Ted the Electric,” “The Race,” “When You Need…”). But when they show their soft side, The Kit can write a damn fine ballad (“Ricochet,” “Spider”). And they still know how to get down (“Music For Strobelights,” the nursery rhyming “Pill Cake”).
The Detachment Kit aren’t exactly all things to all people. They don’t really do hip-hop or country. But they know their strengths and can juxtapose monstrous rock songs with the most emo of indie slow jams, without creating an album that sounds fractured. Their production is a little tighter this time too, which is only the icing on their pill cake.
But don’t freak out about that first song. It’s supposed to be there. And you know what? It’s one of the best 30 second songs you’ll ever hear.
Les Savy Fav – Go Forth
Cursive – The Ugly Organ
Minus the Bear – Highly Refined Pirates
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.