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The Heart of the Nightlife (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

The L.A. duo Kisses take a home-cooked, easygoing approach to their disco-pop sound. On Kisses' debut album, The Heart of the Nightlife, Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson craft a warm and inviting sound that gently swerves between the soundtrack for a night alone under headphones or music perfect for an indie-friendly club night. Kivel, who also fronts the band Princeton, is the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of the duo; his conversational lyrics and slightly (charmingly) off-key vocals call to mind Jens Lekman. In fact, a fair amount of the songs on the album are reminiscent of Lekman's more upbeat songs — not to a distracting extent; it’s just a good reference point. A more important influence on the band’s sound is Kivel's friendship with 1970s disco producer Alec R. Costandinos (who, among other things, was instrumental in Cerrone's early career and made a disco version of Romeo and Juliet). The two spent a lot of time listening to old records together and it shows in the way Kivel constructs the songs, the grooves he builds out of cheap-sounding drum machines, and the overall feel of the album. Edmundson's keyboards are instrumental to the success of the sound too; she fills out the sound perfectly and adds really strong secondary melodies throughout. The duo is at its best on the songs that have a bit of off-kilter, sultry slink and conjure up images of sun-soaked good times (“People Can Do the Most Amazing Things,” “Bermuda”) or rain-slicked city streets (the title track, “Kisses”). They also get a nice churning groove going on tracks like "A Weekend in Brooklyn" and "Midnight Lover" (which features the deathless pickup line “I’d like to take you out for a nice streak dinner”), and they slow things down prettily on the ballads “Women of the Club" and “On the Move." It’s an impressive debut from the duo, the kind of record that will likely end up stuck in heavy rotation and will make you feel good every time it comes on.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

Channeling ‘70s disco through indie pop, Los Angeles’ Kisses features vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jesse Kivel — also of the band Princeton — and keyboardist Zinzi Edmundson, who is also a writer and fashion blogger. Kivel began making music in elementary school, forming Princeton with his twin brother Matt and childhood friend Ben Usen in 2005. The following year, he began dating Zinzi, but the pair didn’t start collaborating on music until a few years later. Inspired by the sincerity...
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The Heart of the Nightlife (Bonus Track Version), Kisses
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