To mangle a phrase, that which does not kill a band makes it stronger. Internal strife and artistic tumult force a group to define their sound, refocus their objectives, and calibrate their dreams. Out of this, one of two things happen: the band breaks up, or they come storming out of the gate, full of a new energy reflected in their work. Happily, the latter is exactly what happened to Danish trio Kissaway Trail, and on their third record, Breach, we hear the remarkable results.
Formed in Denmark in 2005, Kissaway Trail initially consisted of five members. Led by the dual singing and songwriting of guitar players Søren Corneliussen and Thomas Fagerlund, the band fused the fiery atonal rock of acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana with the ethereal thump of the Flaming Lips and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The result was two well-received records – 2007’s self-titled debut and 2010’s Sleep Mountain – that consolidated their reputation as a band to watch. Extensive touring established their live rep, and the group seemed poised to make their third, crucial album. Then, everything exploded, as tensions within the band’s direction hastened the departure of two of the five members. By 2012, the remaining three – Corneliussen, Fagerlund, and Hasse Mydtskov on drums – had spent time getting to know each other and their music again, and headed into the studio fresh, excited, and rejuvenated. “With this new unity,” says Mydtskov, “we were able to be more open with each other, more vulnerable, and really find out what we wanted to do. And what we wanted to do was much more straight ahead than the first two records, more aggressive, more in-your-face.”
And how. Breach is a statement of sharp-angled, dreamy pop-rock purpose. Whereas the tracks off their first two records had as much whisper as weight, on Breach the group gets right up in your ears to tell the tale of change and transformation. Right from the first lines of the opening track, “Tell the Truth,” you can hear a more confessional, stripped-down sound that reflects the trio’s through-the-tempest experiences of the past three years. Or take, for example, a track like “The Springsteen Implosion,” which combines the chugging atonality of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth with the vocal heroics and sonic scope of U2. At the same time, tracks like the haunted “Beauty Still Rebels” show Breach’s spirit of experimentation, with a sensibility as much Bowie as Jesus and Mary Chain. Taken together, the collection shows a band that’s worked through the kinks to find a sound that’s lean yet expansive, massive yet intimate, smart yet visceral.
The record’s release will find the band heading out on the road for an extensive reintroduction to points far and wide of their Danish homeland, to go once more into the Breach and show off their innovative, catchy, and fierce sound.
Breach is available on Yep Roc on August 20.
No upcoming concerts or festivals.