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Album Review

At first, the cover of the Brother Kite's Isolation suggests a marked contrast from its 2006 predecessor. Instead of the warm, sunset-soaked orange hue of Waiting for the Time to Be Right, it presents the antithesis: a swath of light grey on pure white. As it turns out, both covers are a perfect match for the band, since each represents a sort of vast horizon: one a barren winter landscape, and the other its hazy summer flipside that could be a bay view from the Brother Kite's home of Providence, Rhode Island. The band's music is the aural equivalent, expansive and reverb-drenched to the point of total saturation, but all the while maintaining a sharp melodic sense that keeps it intensely tactile. And yet the covers do allude to over-arching statements of purpose that ultimately deviate from one another. On Waiting, what repeatedly came to mind was the latter-day Beach Boys being co-opted in service of extended washes of sun-bathed dream pop. Though they pull the blanket of sound just as high up over their heads on Isolation, subtle changes have now skewed their sound into subzero temperatures. The sense of fullness here is maintained via an increased sonic palette, brought to fruition by a higher production value that allows for even starker contrasts than before. Vocal harmonies are used more sparingly, strengthening the conviction of the many images of serenity and solitude at work. Most significantly, there's an overriding theme of getting lost in wilderness, be it literal or abstract, which the particularly languorous opener, "Martyr for the Cause," establishes while running the sonic gamut. Vocalist Pat Boutwell is at times consumed by an internal journey through past and present, but despite the air of desperation and rootlessness he finds amid the familiar landmarks of "the wreckage of my own home town," there's also a measure of repeated, cycling catharsis in "rising above" and falling "in love again." A tone of exhilaration frequently offers delivery from the discord, too, nowhere harder to ignore than on the immediate pop thrill of "The Scene Is Changing", a whirling ode to a world in motion. Amidst the ringing chords and soaring chorus of the following "Clearly," a striking resemblance to Seattle's Band of Horses slides into focus. Both groups share a proclivity for crafting widescreen portraits of naturalistic grandeur: even their album covers share a similar fixation. Isolation unwinds with an extraordinarily deft sense of pacing that rivals the Brother Kite's Pacific Northwest counterpart, with each song drifting brilliantly into the next as if being flown against the temperamental winds of a mighty sky. These guys are able to take melodies which would sound at home in the work of such far-flung outfits as Simon & Garfunkel ("Awakened") and Fountains of Wayne ("Keep Moving"), and incorporate them into a well-hewn framework that is very much their own.

Customer Reviews

Masterful Success.

YES! This album is so f*cking good. Lead by a chilling, pristine choirboy voice with hints of Jim James and both Simon AND Garfunkle vapor-trailed with Wayne Coyne raspiness with all the breadth and timbre of “the guy from band of horse.”

Isolation's made of ambitious, intelligent, talented, imaginative, inspired, galloping, complex musical compositions 7,000 miles from boring or stuffy, all produced perfectly and densely with no empty spaces just vibrant propelled frequencies and melody of delicious vocal harmonies, wise & mature lyrics, chimy Cure / Angels & Airwaves guitar notes like a dozen bells, haunting keyboards and electronic swirls & pulses sprinkled over more fervent acres of Sunny Day Real Estate guitars and what sounds like an entire drum & bass corps.

Isolation is intricate and subtle but not delicate or precious. Soaring, huge, inspired and brilliant, developed and powerful like the image of doors bursting open and must’ve been recorded in a valley of ice glaciers for so much shimmering echo. The songs “Isolation”, “the Scene is Changing”, and “the Great Divide” are the type of lofty aspirations rarely captured in a band’s entire career.

Every single fine element of Teenage Fan Club power pop, Matthew Sweet catchiness, Death Cab for Cutie tones, themes & intelligence, My Bloody Valentine density and My Morning Jacket reverberation. Pure and splendid.

Keeping it going!

The Brother Kite continues to amaze me with their music. This new album does not disappoint! They're definitely trying something new, but the original components that give TBK their signature sound is still there. If you like TBK, then this album is a must for your collection!

If you know "Waiting For The Time To Be Right"....

Waiting For The Time To Be Right was one of my favorite records of the last few years and it remains in a special place in my heart even today. As good as that record was, I'm finding Isolation to be one of those records that kind of swallows you up and takes you for a ride. It's a long warm embrace, not unlike the last one, but brighter and less melancholic. Like the last one, it still offers big emotional waves that wash over you, but the emotions at play on this record are more about ascension than loss. Those Brian Wilson like aching melodies aren't as present this time out, and, with repeated listens, I'm finding that's just fine with me. This is a record that works its way into your life and stays with you for a while. There's just not enough music like this in the world today and I think it's a shame that this band isn't better known. People should hear this record and more like it.


Formed: 2002 in Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Providence, RI's the Brother Kite had their beginnings in the collaboration between musicians Patrick Boutwell and Jon Downs in 2001, but the group itself didn't come together until the following year with the addition of bassist Andrea Mason and guitarist Mark Howard. The group released a split 7" with Vaguely Starshaped in 2003 and followed it up with their first full-length, The Brother Kite, the following year. They recruited drummer Matt Rozzero soon after that, and the group started thinking...
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Isolation, The Brother Kite
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Customer Ratings