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Kate NV returns looser, giddier and full of real joy on WOW


Release date: 03 March 2023
Kate NV - WOW cover
04 March 2023, 08:00 Written by Joe Creely

Kate NV’s solo work has spiralled about the sonic landscape album to album.

Be it in thrall to '80s D.I.Y. synth-pop as on Binasu, clipped, abstract precision of для FOR, or the transformative thrill of having everything you like all at once as on Room for the Moon. Her new album is no different. She dispenses with the traditional song structures of her last record and instead dives into wonkier rhythms and technicolour sonics. This constant re-invention could lead to a sense of over-extension but on wow she about turns again whilst keeping hold of the key strand of playfulness that runs through all her work.

The sonics of the D.I.Y. synth-pop of the '80s that has been present at points in her career stands out here but in a reworked way. Where in the past, particularly on her debut, she would ape the structures of this music, here it is just a sonic playpen, a case of sounds to be twisted, mangled and tied into new ballon-animal-like shapes. Take opener "Oni (they)" or ‘"early bird", both built around recognisable synth tones of this era, but Kate NV’s structuring and fragmenting of them makes the wider song totally unrecognisable, more akin to Foodman than any more straightforward pop.

But for all the talk of influence, what feels more imperative to mention is just quite how much fun the record is. "Confessions at the dinner table" is a gently ludicrous tune. It’s constantly shape-shifting, starting off as if it’s being vamped by the house band at a faux-Hawaiian restaurant before morphing through atonal saxophones and swoops of MIDI violin, all the while with brilliant melodies just falling out of its ears. Similarly, "d d don’t" sparkles with a spirit of sheer, infectious joy. It has a really pleasing rhythmic wonkiness that offsets this though, ending up sounding like a Ruff Sqwad beat made from the contents of a clown’s car boot.

It’s a glowing return from Kate NV, a cavalcade of bright sounds arranged into gems of pure, often brilliantly silly fun. Her finest work yet.

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