The Kindest People is back with another stellar release, this time with an intergalactic, sci-fi- tint to it. Director’s Cut is an origin story for the anxious voice inside your head, but paired with the upbeat energy this band infuses into each track, the band avoids the sinister despite its subject matter, choosing instead to walk the line between silly and poignant in this album.
Matthew Sykes and Spencer Otey are joined by Evan Rice, Matthew Dougherty and occasionally Austin Herron on this twelve-track release that weaves together the tale of a fictional filmmaker and his journey to uncover the source of the inner voice of anxiety that has become so common to humanity, the implication being that someone, or something has put it in our minds. The band, which hails from the mountain town of Johnson City, Tennessee, has been recording in different iterations since 2016 with six releases under its belt. Far from being gimmicky or overdone, the conceptual backstory behind this album and Syke’s songwriting is subtle enough that the release has a standalone energetic enjoyability.
Knowing the sci-fi inspiration however enhances the experience of the album, creating a treasure hunt for the listener to pick up on lyrical cues and a narrative thread that has the makings of a sonic-cinematic experience. This also explains the album cover, which features the members of the band posing in what appears to be mid-production moment: Sykes stands closest to the camera, wearing dark glasses and holding a film clapperboard, while Otey and Dougherty, dressed in secret-agent-style suits, restrain Rice, who wears a futuristic mono-sunglass.
The Kindest People’s sound is a classic indie garage rock, and the band stays true to this genre in a literal sense as the album was recorded and mixed at The Ranch, a home garage turned into a practice space. Director’s Cut maintains The Kindest People’s DIY ethos, though the production quality of their music is remarkably high for a group of people playing out of a garage. Tracks such as “Bad Thoughts,” contain powerful alt-rock guitar riffs that groove into a cascade of fluid synchronization, a full sound complete with all the key components of indie rock, including electric guitar (Sykes/Otey), bass (Rice) and drums (Dougherty).
Another track later in the album, “Twenty-Five,” ups the tempo even more, delivering a punchy sound that has a tinge of early-aughts alt-power-pop to it, giving the track a slight punk edge, though there is nothing jagged in the tight instrumentation of the band. Sykes’ vocals are confident and appealing, suffused with an easy, laid-back groove, apparent in tracks such as “Director’s Cut,” in which he sings, “Lay your head on down / cause I’m gonna start talking with a brand new sound,” announcing himself as the embodiment of a thematic inner voice. Although the lyrics of the chorus are menacing, hearing Sykes sing, “you’re always alone / always alone / but I won’t leave you alone / even if you’re alone,” feels reassuring to the listener -- if the voice inside your head sounds this good, maybe there’s no need to be anxious after all.
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