Division is a common occurrence, in both nature and within the realm of the man-made. One branch will split and the separate parts will wind and weave away from one another, generally retaining a collection of common traits, ideas, sources or abstractions, whilst definitively splitting in two (or three, or four or so on and so on). Evolution is the most fundamental ideal to describe such a manifestation, as species fragment from mutual ancestors, splintering throughout history.

Music is an easily identifiable point of fracture. Countless genres, bands and movements have been the result of such incidents, some naturally and some forced. Two or three separate musical strands cropping up in a band’s sound is nothing new but, to make it work, a band must meld them together. On the unfortunate occasion, they clash pretty hard, fenders bumping, paint scraping and basically forging a little bit of sonic carnage…

Kindest Lines are a trio from New Orleans who, on their debut record Covered In Dust, have opted to aim for both a Jesus And Mary Chain-esque, lo-fi, mumbling dirge and a sauntering synth led facsimile of 80s post-rock pop (with Siouxsie keys dotted here and there). Opener ‘Hazey Haze’ lives up to its name, stuttering along on an elementary beat whilst the surprisingly clear vocals of Brittany Terry slices through layers of growling guitar and a dirty, downbeat bass line.

Their initial online offering, that drew me to them fawningly, was ‘Baltimore’, a dreamy ode to something in the distance, humming along on its own sense of lo-fi merriment. It finds its way onto the record, sandwiched between two Cure-esque 80s offerings, an odd homage that stumbles more than soars. It’s not that Kindest Lines do the whole 80s things terribly. It’s a suitably sweet tribute, utilising similar sounds to those that obviously inspired this little threesome, but without any sense of moving things forward. Neither do they try to combine it with their love of the post-punk in any cohesive way. Instead, the two fields grate over one another, like enemies chained together in the prison yard, fighting and scrapping whilst nothing gets resolved.

An example of an effective blend does pop up towards the end, in ‘Prom Song’. The track rushes along, on its own little speedway, thanks to an incessant bit of drum machine percussion and a pretty little synth line that rumbles to life now and again. Jack Champagne’s guitars are reliably precise throughout Covered In Dust, recalling a whole mass of influences, from Joy Division to Sonic Youth, picking up volume and backing away from the vocals at just the right moments. Similarly, Justin Blaire (taking up the electronic reins) knows his way around a melody, creating a wonderful New Order-sized blaze of destruction through ‘Running Into Next Year’. The primary issue still remains, in that little seems to have been done in order to fuse and bind the various ingredients that were poured into this sonic cake. Kindest Lines have created two distinct lines of intelligent, interesting and carefully obeisant music on their debut. All they need to do now is take some time to either rip them apart for good or shove them together until they become a whole new form. It’s not going to be easy but it could get very, very interesting…

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