This Is The Kit, alias and brainchild of Kate Stables, is a testament to the merits of perseverance. The first music by This Is The Kit was released twelve years ago, but only in recent years has the band garnered any attention beyond the folk contingent and caught the ears of BBC Radio 6 and Rough Trade. It’s safe to say she has certainly done her time and deserves to be riding this new wave of success. I’d been brought to their attention by my dad, an avid Radio 6 listener, who showed me their song ‘Moonshine Freeze’. What struck me most on first listen were the intricate textures created by voice and guitar despite the sparseness of layers. I was undecided; I liked the song but felt dissatisfied, so I knew that seeing them live would be intriguing.
A sold-out gig at the Brudenell is always a signal that, whoever it is, is doing very well for themselves. The crowd created a really lovely attentive atmosphere, which Stables commented on with bashful surprised gratitude. The overarching feature of the music is of course Stables’ singing. I’m not aware of her songwriting process but the songs seem purposely crafted and fashioned around her voice. Every run is almost Bjorkian: effortless, but sounds calculated to the note; they are projected with power, yet come across so softly; the way she controls that balance is itself worthy of applause.
Another notable aspect of the performance was how together all the musicians were. It’s a clichéd statement, but they were genuinely so responsive to and confident with each other. The soaring harmonies of the horn and sax, the female vocals in octave unison, the quirky lyrics and unusual chord progressions all serve to create a sound that is uniquely theirs. There’s little difference between the recorded and live versions, which can sometimes feel inhibiting, but in this case it further evidenced their virtuosity.
All of this made for quite an intense and demanding show, though. Disappointingly, some of the tracks sounded like album fillers with only a couple of killers: unsurprisingly, the singles ‘Moonshine Freeze’ and ‘Hotter Colder’. Suffice to say, I got ever so slightly bored.
Nitpicky criticism aside, This Is The Kit earned my total respect after a very pleasant gig, and their star will surely continue to rise after this headline tour and a deal with Rough Trade. It definitely deserves to.
Image: Chromatic PR