Drop into Choose Your Weapon – Hiatus Kaiyote.
Lately I’ve been listening to an album on repeat and it’s revolutionizing the sound track of my life. It stops me in the middle of the grocery store or the gym and I unabashedly bop my head, my neck cocked to the side with stank-face on…the universal sign for, “this shit right here?…this shit right here?…is everything!” I don’t know about you, but I like music that has a multi-sensory affect on me, that causes a visceral response in my gut, you know…the kind of music that makes the hairs on my arm stand on end! I’m referring to Grammy nominated Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote’s new album Choose Your Weapon. Listening to this album is like getting on a symphonic rollercoaster of rhythmic twists and turns found in modern Jazz, mixed with psychedelic beats of Funk and the poetry of Neo Soul. All you can do is put your hands up and scream your head off with excitement as you round the sharp corners of each song, surrendering to the ride. The songs are more like movements that begin in one genre and seamlessly morph into another by song’s end. Just when you think you know where Hiatus Kaiyote is taking you, they shift and more of the orchestral progression of their unique sound is revealed.
Definitely funky first, the album sits most comfortably in a jazz space, but sprinkled throughout are these electronic effects sure to satisfy the inner techno-head waving a glow stick. This marriage of synthesized beats and the gospel-rasp of lead singer/guitarist Nai Palm’s voice takes this neo-soul sound to a futuristic level. Palm’s voice, (which to me sounds like Jessie J. on a Quaalude—in a good way…slowed down but still bringing heat and a little church…you know, one of those oh-my-gosh-is-that-really-a-white-girl-singing kind of amazing voices) is bright and soulful. Throw in some Erykah Badu for good measure (my favorite) and you have a rough idea of what to expect from Choose Your Weapon.
What I really love about this album is the attention it demands of its audience, disproving the theory that all millennials think in 150 characters or less, and take no interest in the throwback styles of our musical pioneers. Hiatus Kaiyote doesn’t insult our musical intelligence by hiding behind formulaic song writing or sampling, rather it challenges the listener to lean in and catch the unpredictable syncopation that drives the music forward. I assure you, if this is your type of music, you won’t get bored. There seems to rarely be an emphasis placed on the “hook,” yet this listener continues to mentally revisit the catchy parts of the songs. I can’t stop replaying.
One of the more impressive tracks on this album is “Breathing Underwater,” where a verse like “pleasure, melting your snowflake of lace down your face, for you love, for your lover to find, I could, call your demons aside, soak them in Chamomile, for your love, for your lover to find,” is beautifully woven into a staccato and ethereal melody. The lyrics read like a book of poetry, offering metaphors uncommon in song writing. In the song “The Lung,” the meaning of phrases like “Fill the lung that loves the phosphorescent absorbent time spent on few…and all of you, I’ll offer myrrh and murder the preferred method of doubt that sways about…heavy and unsound…quick to loose, quick to loose your, quick to loose your furrowed brow,” are contextualized through the music in a way that reading the words could never achieve. This music is sophisticated and I love every minute of it. Go get this album and proudly bop your head to it…stank-face is optional.
Other favorite tracks: “Molasses,” “ By Fire,” “Jekyll,” and “Borderline With My Atoms,” "Fingerprints," —all amazing.