Koria Kitten Riot – Rich Men Poor Men Good Men review

KKT album coverIn our stream of international rock, we take a turn for the indie and the European, with indie-pop quintet Koria Kitten Riot hailing from Helsinki, Finland. Recorded in Berlin and mastered by Doug Van Sloun (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit), this album is the first to rope in the whole outfit for a record and is based around the experiences of singer-songwriter Antti Reikko. Looking at the world through other people’s eyes, this release holds some dramatic themes (a mass murderer, for example), and the whole thing is dusted over with a refreshing, indie-rock sound. You can listen to the fifth track, Cold Cold Arms, off the the album before it’s full release on October 6th via Yates Records.

Between A Pillow And A Soft Place opens the thirty-five minute album, dabbling with a few sounds before a lullaby-style backing takes the track for its own and blends seamlessly with the alluring vocals. Something brilliant about this album is that upon close inspection the songs aren’t all they seem, with attention to the lyrics sung so delicately revealing lines such as, “give me families to beat up on adrenaline highs”, adding a more sinister slant to what initially appears to be a peaceful three-minute opener.

A few unexplained electric notes gives way to a solid, simple chord acoustic guitar chord sequences that disarms you again, to make The Lovers That You’ve Never Had another innocently charming instrumental mixed with lyrics tinged with bitterness, roping in infectious refrains to make the song one that loops in your head. Opening lines of third track, A Last Waltz, sums this phenomenon up perfectly; “I could play you your sadness in C / Cut you open no matter the key”. A backing that induces a need to dance (ballroom style – and probably a waltz, if I knew anything of the topic) accompanies lyrics about an alcoholic violinist, displaying Reikko’s affinity for story-telling through his practised singer/songwriter style, to create another striking piece.

Train Song uses the same formula of a gentle tune to tell the story of a girl whose brother became a prisoner of war, before stand out track Cold Cold Arms (which you can hear below) takes a more percussion-oriented style. The slightly heavier vocals mingle with pedal steel and country-folk guitar inflections, creating a song about “losing your magic”. As poetically written as every track off the record, this is the first off the album to allow the music to lead the song, almost overpowering the vocals with the eclectic style before Reikko’s clear voice brings the track to its close.

A single, slightly loose guitar commences the second half of the album, with Suits & Evening Gowns gradually building up over several bar to form a sound which doesn’t fully settle itself until the chorus. Getting drunk at an oppressive black-tie party is a bit of an unusual theme for a song, but the narrative pattern in the track creates catchy hooks that making singing along all but contagious. Acoustic guitar and layered vocals form a more country sound to Sinners In The Sun, soothingly and poetically making a track that deserves a road trip and open windows, with a synthesised -tinged close bordering the track on beach-pop. Today’s Been A Beautiful Day allows opportunity for Reikko to showcase his vocal ability in a song approaching death from a new, positive angle (“tomorrow may rain but today’s been a beautiful day”), making the hypothetically miserable track strangely uplifting.

My personal favourite off the record comes as the penultimate track, purely for it’s multiple levels of meaning – Carpathia. The title comes not as a reference to a fictional world from TV show, Outcasts, but (I can only presume) as a reference to the steamship which helped save lives from the sinking Titanic, making lines such as, “Where are you, Carpathia? / The water’s cold as hearts made out of stone”, and “Some of us must say goodbye before we say hello / One more song before we have to go”, all the more heart-wrenching. As with everything, this is only an opinion, and closing line, “take to the comfort of my home”, implies a sense of agoraphobia – either way, the story telling which accompanies this is astonishing. Sombre closing Where Good Men Used To Live is the only track off the album to match the lyrics and tone closely, and wraps the record up with a resolute optimism.

In effect, this is two albums in one. The manner in which the instrumental and lyrics create contrasting moods is hypnotising, merging together to create an album somewhere between Brand New and The Vaccines.

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