Friday, November 22, 2013
Minks at Mercury Lounge 11-21-13
If the success of The Minks debut, By The Hedge was a result of the collaboration between Amalie Bruun and Sonny Kilfoyle then Tides End, his new record on Captured Tracks can be attributed squarely to the singular vision of Sonny who’s not only managed to push through the burden of a sophomore release but has done it solo.
Not that it was easy, he banished himself to the far end of eastern Long Island where he discovered his own kind of Grey Gardens where he wrote from the perspective of those forgotten Gatsby’s in concise, nostalgic dance sounds. This is especially true in his matured vocal. On “Funeral Song” Sonny buried himself under an electronic warble but everything on Tides End finds Sonny clearly confident and qualified to deliver on these optimistic melodies. The record ends up as something of contradiction; a romantic electronic album that’s comfortable sounding immediately dated in it's analog synth sounds and their digital approximation of strings or harsh square sine waves. It's these unnatural sounds he's attempting to overcome through thoughtful, organic pop like the sweet spot of New Order melancholy. But in the end the machines don’t matter, these are great songs thanks to a human slant.
But how comfortable can you make tracks built with rigid machines? The Minks avoid the pitfalls of a static show behind laptops because these tracks are after all guitar based pop songs at their core. In their synth and bass live setup which they debuted the end of this summer, Sonny is unassuming and familiar, joking with the audience before continuing to nail nearly every track from Tides. It’s not often that the entire front row of the audience spontaneously starts dancing, but the epic opening bursts of "Painted Indian" compels most everyone and that’s the kind of record this is, balancing sentimentality and abandoning irony while referencing The Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell. But unlike those bands there isn't an ounce of futuristic posturing, it's a sincere performance that relies on the strength of the songwriting.
He manages to get away with reclaiming those ‘80s sounds while walking the listener through a conceptual album, an impossible handicap. It’s a perfect marriage in spite of everything working against him; having writers block and recording in an uninspiring utility room at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge but finally proving to himself and an audience that he’s capable of a lot more great records.
Pick up Tides End direct from Captured Tracks