Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sur Back - Kitsch EP (2016)

From the opening trumpet fanfare of her first single "Jane Eyre", I knew Jupiter, Florida based singer/songwriter/producer Sur Back was going to be the type of artist that would be thrilling to watch grow. Not because Caroline Sans had a lot of growing to do but more her ideas - in the case of "Jane Eyre" a fearless dive into complicated meter, were sure to get more fascinating over time and with additional input. While I knew producing was an underrated labor of love where slight, incremental progress could be measured in years, I still let myself hope that Sans' debut album was soon to follow. Ultimately the wait wasn't too torturous and this year, a little over two years after the official release of her first single, Sans' debut EP Kitsch is out and well worth the wait.

Kitsch with its four tracks allows itself to be brief but that hardly blunts the force of its arrival or the sharpness of its construction. Sans has established rather early with "Jane Eyre" and second single "Occam's  Razor", which opens the EP, a tendency towards luxurious craning vocals that belie the simple utility of her production. Sans' approach favors deft over decadence; sparsity over the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach without sacrificing lushness. Kitsch is a collection of smooth, flowing songs that highlights the talent of Sans' one-woman show as "Pastel" and album ender/title track "Kitsch" feature perfectly deployed strings that catapult her songs to peak emotional effectiveness. But "Kitsch" with its slavic romance feel and sultry slow-burning delivery and "Pastel" do impressively different things with their strings. On "Pastel", Sans' strings are merely a part of din; an elegant textural choice in the climactic cacophony of its race to the finish instead of the deflating sighs towards quiet entropy in "Kitsch".

Kitsch may be brief but functions as an utterly thrilling introduction to Caroline Sans and the movement and classical music inspired vision that informs her work as Sur Back. Each song on Kitsch functions separately as a sort of expressive mood piece tailor made for the soundtrack of the listener's life. Sans' maximalist tendencies are obscured by the effortless stitching together of multitudinous layers result in visceral images presented with beguiling ease. None of the EP's four tracks resemble Sans' first single "Jane Eyre" (the only song not to make it on the EP) and Kitsch is all the more better for it - pushing Sans' in exciting and largely unexpected new directions for the listener. With plans for a new EP percolating no one can really tell where Sans is off  to creatively but if her continued growth resembles anything like the  lead up to Kitsch it's bound to be incredibly entertaining, wonderfully cinematic, and entirely worth the wait.

Sur Back's debut EP Kitsch is out now.

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