Mount Kimbie – The Sunset Violent review: a fruitful reset from one of the UK’s best

Mount Kimbie (L-R: Andrea Balency-Béarn, Dominic Maker, Kai Campos, Marc Pell)

Review

Rating
9/10
Rating
9.0/10

Fifteen years into their career, the newly unveiled quartet present a fourth album which feels as fresh and invigorated as a debut.

Very few acts of Mount Kimbie’s stature have carved a cultural pivot from which they can freely move in any direction without so much of a wrinkle of cynicism. Radiohead, perhaps? And Beck definitely has a case to make. With their new LP, The Sunset Violent, electronica mavericks Mount Kimbie have emerged from a Californian desert cocoon as a fully formed shoegaze outfit.

This new project marks Kimbie’s first album proper since 2017’s Love What Survives (with 2022’s MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning, as the name suggests, existing somewhere in the ether between albums 3 and 4). What sets The Sunset Violent apart, at least from an aesthetic viewpoint, is in the enlisting of keyboardist Andrea Balency-Béarn and drummer Marc Pell. Both artists have previous with Mount Kimbie, with Balency-Béarn contributing to Love What Survives standout track (and The Sunset Violent spiritual precursor) ‘You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)’.

These additional bands member have fleshed out Kimbie’s sound, the cold clangs are still present throughout the percussions – largely courtesy of the LinnDrum, a drum machine which ceased manufacture in 1985 – but with a richer, fuzzier cushioning filling the negative space between samples and keys. This colour is only brought to life further by Balency-Béarn’s vocals tesselate between those of Dominic Maker’s to slip somewhere between the dichotomies of Pixies’ Kim Deal/Black Francis and The XX’s Romy Madley Croft/Oliver Sim.

‘Dumb Guitar’, the first single from The Sunset Violent, exemplifies this. Balency-Béarn carries a majority of the vocals, bolstered with harmonic samples reminiscent of Crystal Castles’ ‘Tell Me What To Swallow’, sets the tone for a mesmeric new chapter.

A flavour of “getting the band back together” contrasts the new beginnings presented in the album, with King Krule pitching in on two tracks; reigniting the collaborative relationship with Mount Kimbie which has previously spawned ‘Meter, Pale, Tone’ and ‘Blue Train Lines’, with the latter of which sitting among the great alternative offerings of the past decade.

Krule’s contributions to this new collection sees Archy Marshall portraying a more serene delivery than the in previous collaborations. In keeping with The Sunset Violent as a whole, there are twinges of discomfort permeating throughout the lyrics (“I could smell you in my dreams / I can feel the tight jacket details of the floral / Black lace that stretch between cold thighs / In reality I was all alone, heartbroken”), but these are easter eggs buried behind a heavy emphasis on an expansive, mesmeric tapestry.

Created over a month in a remote Californian town, complete with a logbook of UFO sightings, The Sunset Violent sees Mount Kimbie shedding everything that once defined them.

Having long graduated from their early role as post dubstep’s poster boys (a progression which was always inevitable), the newly-formed quartet have achieved the implausible: finding an immense payoff after bulking out a winning formula to allow a fifteen year project to bleed well outside of its own lines. The Sunset Violent cements Mount Kimbie’s position, not only as one of UK music’s most mercurial outfits, but perhaps our most underrated.

featured image: T-Bone Fletcher

Review

Rating
9/10
Rating
9.0/10
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