Releasing your first solo album after years spent as part of a collective is bound to be a daunting experience, but it’s a scenario that former Dum Dum Girls leader Kristin Welchez has taken in her stride. Putting out a record under the creative alias Kristin Kontrol, the singer has previously expressed the risks involved in making new music with new producers, but after listening to ‘X-Communicate’, it’s a risk that has clearly paid off.
With Kurt Feldman and Andrew Miller on production duties, Welchez’s serene voice is undeniably the most cohesive component on a record which, track by track, veers from genre to genre in a rather captivating manner. It’s a concept which is highlighted in opener ‘Show Me’ with the singer repeating the line: “There’s no need to change yourself.” Whether this is an ode to having an alter-ego in the musician’s girl group past or not, there’s a real sense of authenticity and honesty running through the bones of this Sub Pop release.
‘(Don’t) Wannabe’ is a mellow affair with floating synths and bordering on a shoegaze vibe which picks up pace with a mighty guitar-led crescendo. However the LP’s most melancholic moment comes courtesy of ‘What Is Love’. An unrequited piano ballad to begin with, the song showcases the pure delicacy in Welchez’s voice before soothing guitars and gentle percussion make an appearance. Segueing straight into the edgy, swaggering style of ‘Face 2 Face’, genre hopping is a trait which has been near perfected by the artist.
An undoubtable highlight is the LP’s title track. ‘X-Communicate’ is unwaveringly elegant in it’s electronic elements. Merging striking disco beats and soft vocals it’s nothing short of a kaleidoscopic club banger – and a very deserving choice for the record’s lead single.
Album closer ‘Smoke Rings’ rounds off the genre-spanning journey with a track that could easily have been lifted from a fantasy film soundtrack. Orchestral and cinematic, it’s an appropriate ending, cemented with opening line: “I blow smoke rings into my lover’s eyes, it’s a fancy way for me to say goodbye.”
A collection of pulsing synths, bouncing beats and empowering vocals, ‘X-Communicate’ may have seen Kristin Kontrol strip away her former image, but it’s left the singer’s sonic presence stronger than ever.
Words: Shannon Cotton
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