Too often, both intricateness and beauty get written off in music, the former as self-indulgent wankery, the latter as just surface sheen. And while those assumptions can be true, they also can be quite false, perhaps never more so than with Kate Stables’ This Is the Kit. On Off Off On, intricate beauty has connection and substance.
Stables’ accomplished finger-work runs throughout Off, higher tones and interesting rhythms that certainly stand out, but also don’t overwhelm songs such as opener “Found Out”, the catchy “No Such Thing”, and carrying closer “Keep Going”. Sometimes she veers almost into smooth jazz-by-way-of-Broken Social Scene, like the evening “Slider” and up-tempo “Coming To Get You Nowhere”. Then there are the strong singles, the frenetic anxiety, again mixed with beauty, of “This Is What You Did”, and the powerful meditation on women coming into their power (with influence from the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin & Greta Thunberg), “Was Magician” (QRO review).
Off Off On is obviously not some pop hit album, but is also not only for hipster music snobs who hate any pop hit album without even listening to it. The intricacies and beauty are laid together like old friends, just making lovely music together.