Adult Karate “Indoors” (Plug Research, 2017)

This might be a hard sell, and to be straight from the outset there is not a shred of what most people would define as Americana in this release. Nor is there a touch of roots, or for that matter rocking. Adult Karate – which is for all intents and purposes KC Maloney – is an all electric band : yes, we’re talking synthesisers here. That might be anathema to some, but if you should be one of those who can find room in their musical hearts for albums like Yoshimi battles the pink robots – The Flaming Lips’ soundtrack to an unmade anime movie – or the more recent work by John Grant post his Midlake inspired and supported reboot, then there’s a good chance that Adult Karate could in fact be your kind of band.

Indoors follows very much in the footsteps of last years’ LXII, cinemagraphic tales told over a multi-layered accompaniment utilising a variety of textures – programmed percussion with changing tempos, pulses of big bass beats, soft piano licks from the top end of the keyboard. At times it brings to mind The Pet Shop Boys, another point of contact is the recent Jean-Michelle Jarre collaboration albums (Electronica-1 & Electronica-2) which similarly feature a rich vein of sounds which embrace lyrics which go beyond mere pop but nudge into singer-songwriter and confessional territory. The theme is break-ups, and the murky and mixed emotions that go along with that state of moving on – through choice or through being passed a fait accompli.  Friction exemplifies this, with additional vocals by Adaline, which has a perfect central parting lyric “You’ll believe in me, I believe in you, but you’ll be leaving me”.  Sumptuous and gorgeous in equal measure. The final track, Broken Sons, is an epic which builds slowly on repetition from a barely audible start, becoming more intense with every cycle through the desperate and choked sentiment “the trouble looms / the gathering blue / ‘cos you’re checking out” until it finally breaks free with a pulsing beat, that implies motion – away from despair and into a new, brighter future.

Sure Indoors is danceable in places – if one were so inclined – but there’s great depth to the soundscapes as well. The lyrics are a cut-above any basic song where boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-feels-sad, and KC Maloney has a perfect voice for his music, whilst Adaline adds a smooth contrast. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan’s music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That’s not much to ask, is it?

Leave a comment..