After 4 years and countless releases of tirelessly exploring the genres of goth, new wave and shoegaze, The KVB – the UK duo of Nicholas Wood and Kat Day – has come out with their Out Of Body EP. As their first work recorded outside of their home studio and in collaboration with Stereolab drummer Joe Dilworth, the release might be the band’s most definitive statement so far.
The sound on display here is not unlike that of their 80s revivalist peers A Place to Bury Strangers, but where that band takes its influences to their most aggressive, sonically assaulting extremes, The KVB indulge more in the dark ethereal beauty of 80s British alternative music, the drugged-out vocals drowning in thick atmospherics, and the songs peppered with soaring synth lines.
The stunning opener “All Around You” is a perfect example of that. Here, The KVB take New Order at their dreamiest and use it as a launchpad for a gorgeous song of sweetly whispered vocals and triumphant synths. Other songs offer slight twists on that same formula: the gothy “From Afar” is propelled by a pounding beat and Cure-like guitars; the drowsy “Cartesian Bodies” engulfs the whimper of Wood’s voice with mellow haze; and “Between Suns” takes on a bluesy vibe, sounding like a darker, more grandiose Jesus and Mary Chain.
The slight variations on the theme could grow tiresome, but The KVB don’t overstay their welcome, mining their sound just enough for the 26-minute EP. Considering how easy it is to hide a lack of substance when you have this much style, the songwriting is surprisingly affecting.
To criticize The KVB for simply fetishizing the sounds of the 80s and early 90s without bringing much new to the table would not be entirely unfair, but when a band puts together a collection of songs this good, and pull off the sound they’re going for with such confidence, it’s much more tempting to go along for the blissful nostalgia trip than to complain.