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The KVB – Minus One

The KVB – 'Minus One' album review

Treating strong influences with respect, the London duo rustle up a novel mixture of post-punk synths and noise

By James Manning
Trap, jazzcore, cybergrind, footwork, seapunk, donk – the internet age has spat out more than its fair share of preposterous new genre tags, but here’s another: shoe wave. That’s our not-entirely-serious designation for The KVB, who oscillate between the tone-bending guitar fuzz of The Jesus And Mary Chain or early My Bloody Valentine and the desolate, Joy Division-inspired bass and synth lines of cult European darkwave bands such as Grauzone or Kas Product.

‘Minus One’ is the London duo’s second album this year, an expanded and updated version of a 2011 EP, and it’s a cracker. Packed with sharp drum-machine beats, chorus-laden post-punk bass and distorted synthesizers, it’s by turns stately and red-raw. The stand-out track is ‘Dominance/Submission’ – an awesome, seven-minute motorik workout that runs fuzzy guitar and an octave-jumping synth riff together until you can’t tell which is which – but there’s plenty here that approaches that high point. ‘Passing By’ is all synths and bass like first-album New Order, while closing song ‘Radiant Hour’ recalls Interpol or ‘Faith’-era Cure.

Sometimes those points of reference become almost overwhelming (check out the Mary Chain-lifting sneer on ‘Live or Die’), and just occasionally there’s not quite enough going on to stop that awful word ‘dirge’ drifting to mind. Generally, though, The KVB walk an impressive line between tradition and individual talent – especially considering that most of the tracks here were recorded and mixed by the band in their home studio. We’re not expecting ‘shoe wave’ to catch on, but here’s hoping that The KVB stick around for longer than the cybergrind movement: it sounds as if they’ve got plenty still to give. Buy this album here

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