Prepare to be impressed, as Madrid-based duo Easy Kid drop their unique, musically diverse, and genre-smashing debut album ‘Lenai’ on Depaart.
The opener ‘Whole Life Waiting’ very effectively offers an early taste of Easy Kid’s agenda for the album, with skippy kickdrums, urgent motifs, a powerful bassline, and mournful synths setting the scene for more emotional string-like sounds while a second bass part gets to work in the second half, interacting with fresh, lovely cascading melodies and swirling organ parts. The title track ‘Lenai’ is funkier and more percussive, but boasts another heavy bassline and some cosmic melody lines, before some wonkier, pitch-bending synths take control. The vocals come as a bit of a surprise, but work really well, adding a new layer of distinctiveness and indie-attitude to the track. Next up we have ‘Growl’, and it’s punchy off-kilter kicks and interesting claps give this a rhythm somewhere between breaks and four to the floor. There’s a subtle build to the breakdown, where retro synths suddenly spring into action, before the track drops into a bright, bleepy techno groove. The arrangement on this one is really clever, and Easy Kid manages to pull all of the seemingly disparate elements of the track together so that they really complement each other.
‘Foolishness’ sees Easy Kid once again wielding more traditional house beats, with a strong bass theme running throughout the track. The vocal is utterly bizarre, but really compelling and catchy for all that, and another busy techno bleep rises out of the vocals to provide the focal point for the rest of the track, getting super cut-up and manipulated later on. ‘Everyone’ drops the tempo, firing clipped, summery guitar samples over a nu-disco beat. The breakdown unleashes some astonishing bass sounds, before we’re treated to some atmospheric vocals. This isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but it’s really unique, and there’s lots of attention to detail to enjoy – the manipulation of the guitar sounds as the track shifts key is extraordinary, for example. Easy Kid pick up the pace again with ‘Feelings Like These’, with abstract tones spacing out the early breakdown, spiraling out of control before locking into place over a poignant, almost cello-like bassline.
‘Raro’ is a real curveball, with a snarling intro giving way to stuttering percussion, heavy shifting basslines, and paranoid rave stabs. This is definitely the most experimental cut on the album, and it’s the one track I really couldn’t make any headway on – not my thing, for sure. ‘Steam Empire’ is a welcome return to the core sounds of the album, but it offers plenty of novelty too. A wobbly organ theme and subtly spiraling synth motifs gradually work up some serious intensity as the track slowly progresses, and a couple of airier sequences add some touches of light which lift it at key moments. In contrast, ‘Yammy’ is another of the more experimental numbers, featuring glitchy percussion, dubby stabs, and subtle acid licks that get wonkier as the track develops.
‘Eigho’ is another of the album’s highlights, with Easy Kid serving up a low-key, pulsing house groove, with moody melodic themes and some amazing and totally distinctive vocal work during the breakdowns all building towards a really nice finale. Finally, the closer ‘Perfect Disorder’ is a very aptly named genre-smasher, with intricate live-kit sounds and a walking bassline instantly giving a jazzy feel, but there’s soon a ‘Rose Rouge’-esque shift to a housier sound, before Easy Kid tease in some solemn melodies. There’s another evocative vocal during the breakdown, which adds a whole other dimension to the track before techy bleeps take control, leading to a surprisingly emotional climax which brings all of the elements together really nicely.
I don’t like everything on this album, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s thanks to Easy Kid’s debut LP being so different to everything out there, so diverse in the range of sounds and styles it draws on and synthesises, and so willing to take risks – this is no safe collection of formulaic club tracks – and while I’m not convinced that all of those risks have paid off, more than enough of them do to make this album worth exploring at length. As debut LPs go, this is a deeply impressive achievement from Easy Kid, and I’ll definitely be interested to hear how they develop their sound from here.