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Kimono hails from the land that brought the world everyone from Björk to Sigur Ros and Múm. Interestingly enough, they sound nothing like any of the aforementioned groups, instead laying down a heavy racket of guitars that calls to mind work by Polvo and even a touch of Mogwai. This is a release in which guitars dominate, and dark and disturbing thoughts rule. From the bizarre artwork (that features everything from giant monsters attacking and a reoccurring theme of death of some sort) to the dark and cryptic lyrics, it's definitely a brooding album and the sonics that the band create are just about the right soundtrack to it all.

The long liner notes actually feature a rambling narrative that sometimes incorporates the actual lyrics from different tracks (even though tracks only incorporate vocals during about half their running lengths). The opening track of "Japanese Policemen" gives the listener a good flavor of what to expect with chiming guitars that soon turn aggro while the vocals of Alex MacNeil croon in a dreary baritone about alienation as guitars attack and recede accordingly. "Jessie" follows with a similarly downcast narrative, and a dirty bassline slinks behind the tale while punching drums offset stabs of guitar.

The group can do quiet as well when they want, which is evident on the rather lovely track "Between Sets." Warm guitar and piano melodies intertwine before MacNeil adds a couple lines of resigned world-weary observation before the whole track just shuffles to a close. For all their rock action, the group is actually at their best when they quiet things down and take a more subtle road. In addition to the aforementioned track, "Night Of The Living Dead" mixes completely bizarre vocals with subdued instrumentation that only flirts with louder things and stays stronger because of it. Definitely not an album for everyone, the group tries a lot of different styles and it seems like they really only feel truly comfortable some of the time. Combined with their almost relentlessly downcast lyrics, it's an odd listen, but offers up a completely different style of music than you might expect from Iceland.

Rating: 6