Arms of Kismet – Cutting Room Rug (CD)

Arms of Kismet mix together vocals that would seem proper on an Elvis Costello record (Auricular) with a staggered, false sounding set of arranged of vocals (Rise and Shine) to make for a moderated yet always fun pop sound. The synthesizer, although an instrument of “fakeness”, is tweaked perfectly to make for a second set of vocal accoutrements to present themselves on the disc. “Outbound Train” is Arms of Kismet’s re-tooling of Aerosmith’s classic “Shut Up and Dance”, creating an alt-country sound around the Steven Tyler-infused chorus. The wall-of-noise that is common during most of the track skillfully keeps disparate elements together for the runtime of the track, but really doesn’t seem necessary after the success of the initial alt-country offering. Moving into a rockabilly, Lou Reed-meets-Johnny Cash delivery for “Clover”, the circular nature of the track is what really holds back the track from greater success. Everything on “Clover” is rendered in the same fashion, sung in the same way, and played at the same tempo so nothing really feels as if it is getting done – the listener is in effect running around the dog track.

The echoing guitars of “Coil”, along with the brooding tempo created during the track allows for Arms of Kismet to really flesh out their sound by delving into positions previously uncharted by the band. What results during “Coil” is a pop-ready track that, even with topping the scales at nigh-five minutes, feels much more svelte. Bob Dylan and Billy Bragg fight over who is to sing 4AM’s version of “Sukiyaki” during “Life Imitates”, just as the drums fight for dominance during the later “Clarendon”, which gradually loses steam as the track gets more intricate. The poor mixing of the vocals during the noisier sections of “Clarendon” really put the track as a disadvantage to what was previously a solid album. While the track is by all means a solid one, the presence of too-quiet vocals during the chorus of “Clarendon” show that the band is far from infallible.

“Cutting Room Rug” is an album that is on the cutting-edge of pop, and while there are some minor setbacks, it is really the bold foot forward that will be remembered more than the minor miffs on this disc. Arms of Kismet is revolutionary in that they go back to the earlier styles of pop music, pick and choose what is best for them, and tie it together with a number of other influences to make for what is fresh music.

Top Tracks: Coil, Pinnacle of Fame

Rating: 6.3/10

Arms of Kismet – Cutting Room Rug / 2005 Wampus / 11 Tracks / / / Reviewed 12 April 2005

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