Soundbite: “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Rainbow Kitten Surprise, originally a two-piece band from Boone, NC, started their music careers in 2013 with their first studio album “Seven and Mary.” They had a humble start, producing their music from a college dorm room. This album blended the two men’s voices into a welcoming harmony set with calming guitar, which defines their musical and vocal style even now. As their following grew, they gained three members who  furnished a fuller sound for their 2015 album “RKS.” Most recently, the band put out their third studio album entitled “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall, building on their history of natural instrumentation and clean harmonies.

Best Cuts

Throughout the entire musical body of Rainbow Kitten Surprise, even the most emotionally heavy songs have dynamic instrumentation that draws the listener deeper into the album. “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” is no exception, opening with the introductory and soft track “Pacific Love” and contrasting with the fast-paced “Mission to Mars.” “Pacific Love” is 24 seconds of haunting harmonies that introduce the overarching theme of love and long-term relationships. The lyrics are eerily echoed to the point — instead of full lines standing out —   that only a few phrases like “hold my hand,” “keep my fever running” and “blood cools” are comprehensible. The lyrics evoke the bliss of early love but quickly sober up by discussing invoking the pain of disease. So, the blatant emotion force the listener to break past musicality to delve deeper into the album’s meaning. “Mission to Mars” also holds this dark optimism, but instead uses it to discuss the workforce. It uses the analogy “a mission to Mars is destined to fail” and references specific moments the band lived while trying to succeed in the music industry. The opening guitar is reminiscent of “Seven and Mary” and “RKS,” and the lyrics feel honest. The band members openly talk about what held them back but use the song to tell the story of their eventual success.

Not all of the tracks off “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” hold the same style of instrumentation as their older works. The later tracks on the album show a new level of experimentation. This starts at the tail end of the ninth track “When It Lands” and through the end of the album’s last four tracks. Towards the end of “When It Lands,” a relatively high-energy song, the music changes from quick words and even faster guitar to a slow-jam style, which leads to the slow exit of the album. The album’s penultimate track “Possum Queen” is a new frontier for Rainbow Kitten Surprise in both sound and choice of metaphorical language. When juxtaposed with the final track, “Polite Company,” it shows an even odder editorial closing choice. “Possum Queen” is muffled and gritty, and the featured piano is just melodically disconcerting enough against even drumming for listeners to get hooked and stay hooked through the increasing speed of the song. The song holds regret in its lyrics focused on lost people and lost opportunity, whereas the next track follows similar storytelling style with sadness rather than nervous energy.

Throughout the 13 tracks on this album, a wide range of emotion is expressed, drawn from many facets of life. However, as the album title implies, the music extends far past friendship and love, movings into the great unknown that is “freefall.” From start to finish, the harmonization and quick tempo juxtaposed with haunting, slow ballad creates a cohesive body of work that slides seamlessly into the sensation of their previous work.

Other great cuts

If nothing else, be sure to listen to“It’s Called: Freefall,” “Hide” and “Recktify.”

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