Ever since everybody started using synthesizers & electronics, there have been those who’ve done more with them, done the same, and those who’ve done less. Some acts merely replace guitars and the like with keys & beats, for better or worse. Some artists just autotune over a beat for the latest club-banger in a DJ’s playlist. And then there are those who use the digital to get to the human heart, like Melbourne’s Kilo on their full-length debut, Backwater.
The restrained beats and darkly intimate atmosphere on Backwater, not to mention male-female vocal work, brings to mind fellow Anglophone synthophiles The xx maybe a little too clearly, but for the right reasons. Opener “Downfall” has low-key cool beats while also evoking loss, a feat that makes the record noteworthy. There are times when it goes into club-ready dance, such as “Dissolve” or closer “Not Like Them”, but the sadder end of the evening (songs more likely to be featured in the downbeat montages on a BBC millennial drama, not party-fueled dance).
Backwater doesn’t have quite the width of sound, or depth of experience, that The xx have managed to reach today (QRO 2017 album review), but it has all the hallmarks of getting there from a strong start.