Album Review: The Kissaway Trail – Sleep Mountain (2010 LP)


In recent years, the Danes have been showing us that their small European country has a lot of big musical potential. Already, bands like The Raveonettes, Mew and The Elephant
s are gaining recognition across the waters; now, Denmark’s most recent export to come to our attention is The Kissaway Trail.

Hype began to form around the band after the release of their debut, self-titled long player in 2007. The album, echoing the heavily textured and darker, melancholic sounds of bands like Grandaddy and Mercury Rev, attracted a lot of attention, especially following the band’s various festival appearances. Following years of touring with the likes of The Editors and The National, the band finally bunkered down in the studio and emerged with their triumphant follow-up. With Sleep Mountain, the five-piece has undoubtedly honed their craft and the result is an album that is much richer and polished – the songs feel less meandering, the song structures are more precise and the melodies and vocals have more intensity and emotion.

This could in some part be thanks to producer Peter Katis, the man behind the helm of such albums as Interpol‘s Turn on the Bright Lights and The National‘s acclaimed The Boxer. He has helped The Kissaway Trail create an emotional, majestic yet subtle record. The band’s fascination with sweeping arrangements have often earned them comparisons to an interesting assortment of bands and this is certainly still evident on their second LP (the bittersweet “New Year” has echoes of The Flaming Lips; the drum’n’bass-style “Friendly Fire” has a certain atmospheric and innocent, Sigur Ros-esque feel), but the Odense band own their sound. This is apparent, even from the immediately powerful opening track “SDP”, where rolling drums hold together the charging indie-rock guitars and cinematic piano flourishes before it leads seamlessly into a gorgeously stripped back chorus that showcases Thomas Fagerlund and Soren Corneliussen’s superbly harmonious, multi-layered vocals.

The band doesn’t do things in half measures – they can pack as much emotion into their grand and heartbreaking cover of Neil Young‘s “Philadelphia” as they can to the jangly and energetic “New Lipstick”. Meanwhile, the breathtakingly grand “Beat Your Heartbeat” encompasses everything the band have proven so adept at: soaring choruses, melancholic atmosphere and intricate arrangements. Sleep Mountain is an album full of depth which is as fragile as it is epic, and it only sounds better with each listen.

Review score: 8.5/10