I’m fairly certain that Kindo (formerly known as The Reign of Kindo) don’t need an introduction to a good portion of our readership; after all, they’re one of the premiere jazz-rock groups of the 21st century. Over the course of their career, which spanned twelve years and multiple LPs, EPs, and remix albums up to now, they have made quite the name and standing for themselves. April 14 marked the release of their fourth full-length studio effort Happy However After, which was put out once again via the band’s long-time label Candyrat Records. I’m happy to report that they might just have outdone themselves with this new record.
The main reason for this assessment is the diversity in style Happy However After carries within its ten songs. Besides the more usual Kindo fare (read: jazzy indie rock with auxiliary instrumentation and optional string arrangements), we are treated to upbeat latin-tinged stylings, balladesque tracks, jazz fusion-oriented moments, elements of funk, and even some electronic influences. This might read like an overexaggerated aggregate, but I have proof to back up this list.
Take the high-energy cut “Human Convention”, for example. Are you seriously going to tell me that this wasn’t influenced at least somewhat by the Latin jazz tradition? From the percussion work to the overall fiery and danceable rhythm, it unmistakably carries a South-American spirit. The following “Catch The Gleam” emphasizes the mellow, romantic tendencies the band always had a special knack for. Sensitive piano touches and a string arrangement lay the groundwork for the song’s hauntingly wistful tone, and Joseph Secchiaroli’s emotional vocal performance really drives it home.
“Smell of a Rose” brings a hefty dose of the funk to the table, most notably in the glitzy guitar work and warm bass tone; if this track doesn’t make you want to move your body, you’re either deaf or a complete buzzkill. You can decide which of those is worse by yourself. Moving on, “Obsolete” conjures an image of the early 70s’ jazz fusion era with its retrofuturistic synths, playful ambient guitars and laid back atmosphere. Kindo even toy with vocal effects on this song, which seems to have fallen out of time right onto Happy However After. To end things off on a particularly interesting note, final track “City of Gods” dabbles in elements of electronic music, building on and further enhancing the retro fusion feel of its predecessor “Obsolete”.
A definitive career high point
In my opinion, this album sees Kindo finally realizing their full potential, not just because of the incredible joy of playing and inventiveness at play, but even more importantly because they finally got the production end of their music right. On previous records, I feel like some of their equally great songwriting fell a bit flat due to a dry, slightly subpar production that never really seemed to fully gel with the fluent, multi-variant vision of the band and its members. This time around it simply fits, giving the songs a bright and colorful sound garment to sport alongside their musical strengths.
Five years and a name change after their last release Play With Fire, Kindo show themselves to be on top of their game. Happy However After would be a strong statement in almost every band’s repertoire, seeing that it is incredibly diverse and highly cohesive aside from being pure fun to listen to. Taking cues from both their own past and that of the genres they draw inspiration from, they have forged some of their most forward-looking, engaging material yet. If they can build upon this new sonic identity, I think not even the sky would be a limit for them in the future.
Notable Tracks: “Human Convention”; “Smell of a Rose”; “Obsolete”
FFO: Return To Forever, Snarky Puppy, Thank You Scientist