[sic] Magazine

The Kissaway Trail – Sleep Mountain

In 2007 The Kissaway Trail let slip one of the best albums of the year to general indifference. Yes, it sounded a lot like Arcade Fire in places, but offset by quirky dalliance it also sounded great. 2008 saw further corking releases from the continent from The Notwist and Get Well Soon but in 2009 Brooklyn dominated. Will 2010 see The Kissaway Trail and their anthemic indie-rock wrestling credibility back to their native Denmark?

The band’s second long-player Sleep Mountain is instantly familiar, “SDP” chimes epically like British Sea Power circa Do You Like Rock Music? “New Year” succeeds in heading straight for the heartstrings with lush layering and sterling vocal work from Søren Corneliussen and the Arcade Fire-like backing chorus. The Neil Young cover “Philadelphia” hones in on some intangibly beautiful Flaming Lips / Mercury Rev middle ground. Though it’s very welcome, a wry accordion is put to use on “Don’t Wake Up”, a track which probably deserves a call from Win Butler ‘s lawyer. Few ever doubted that The Kissaway Trail have overblown indie nailed, but what about progression, variety or making mark of their own on the scene?

Well, if you’re in the market for a producer, you can do a lot worse than Peter Katis . He gave Interpol and The National stadium-sized sound without saddling them with stadium-sized fanbases. He’s done the same on Sleep Mountain, rounding off any Nordic legacy from the debut and fluffing the remainder for the alternative mainstream. As a result the album is huge, full of orchestral swells, dreamy extensions and confident rhythms. Sadly, it’s also rather predictable.

In between the album’s chest-beating moments lie comparatively mute offerings. For example, “Painter” plods in the new setting where it could have beguiled within the debut’s context. It’s further let down by being too long. Drawing out “SDP” just about works, its hands-in-the-air qualities forgive the indulgence. Prolonging “Painter” is little more than an exercise in aimless strumming when, whimpering to a close, compassion begs for it to be put down 2 minutes prior.

Funeral was one of the last decade’s best, there’s little getting round it. So, it should be no surprise those schooled in it are influenced by it. Though influence can inhibit one’s own art, it can also enable it. Let us not forget that even a pale facsimile of Funeral is ultimately better than most offerings.

Sleep Moutain is out now on Bella Union .