"I had this idea that the album could have the same drumbeat throughout the whole record, every single song," the group's Kai Campos recently told Dazed. That didn't wind up happening on Love What Survives, Mount Kimbie's third album, but the motorik is still a recurring presence and source of inspiration. It underpins the immersive, scene-setting opener, "Four Years And One Day." It blossoms halfway through "SP12 Beat," the track here that most closely resembles Neu!. And it lays the foundations for "Delta," "Blue Train Lines" and "You Look Certain (I'm Not So Sure)."
The motorik's forward momentum is a convenient symbol for a group who've spent the last few years figuring out their creative direction. On 2013's Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, Mount Kimbie seemed to be at a crossroads. They were known as the group who'd helped shape the sound of post-dubstep, and the album found them simultaneously embracing their roots in the club and trying out new, song-orientated ideas. It had moments of brilliance, but there was a sense that Mount Kimbie were still a band in flux. At that point it was unlikely Kai Campos and Dom Maker knew where they were headed next, but on Love What Survives it seems they've arrived there, with a little help from a 40-year-old drum pattern.
The duo's sharp ear for melody and hooks has made the journey. In places there's an interplay between the infectious synths and guitars that have defined Mount Kimbie and the group's newly presented influences. On "Audition," we get a baggy, Joy Division-style bass guitar mixing with buzzing synth tones; like many tracks on the album, its focus is on racing towards the horizon. "T.A.M.E.D" is happier staying where it is, but there's a similar swirling union of guitars and synths. This one features Maker's vocals, and while he doesn't have the most commanding presence, he can spin a simple line like "Think about me every day" into an earworm. Andrea Balency, who the band now tour and record with, has a little of Broadcast's Trish Keenan about her on "You Look Certain (I'm Not So Sure)," another track that shows the progress Mount Kimbie have made with songwriting.
Plenty of inspiration seems to come from collaborators, with five of the album's 11 tracks featuring guests. King Krule, who appeared on the last record, has a voice that splits opinion—he's a good fit for the record, and "Blue Train Lines" is arguably stronger than "You Took Your Time," one of their previous collaborations, but his forceful London drawl arrives at a point (the second track) when you're still settling into the album's groove.
James Blake appears twice in the back half of the record, with the gospel-tinged "We Go Home Together" and "How We Got By," the soul-soaked closer. Both are delicate and affecting, the type of snug collaborative fit you'd expect from artists who've known each for years, but it's the link-up with Micachu that's the album's standout. "I'm looking up at you, yeah," she sings, as the drums and bass gently patter beneath her and a gorgeous melody cascades through the arrangement. Collectively, the artists here represent a vanguard of leftfield UK pop that has its roots in London. Love What Survives won't make Mount Kimbie household names, but it finds them in a new creative space that suits them.
Fri / 8 Sep 2017
01. Four Years And One Day
02. Blue Train Lines feat. King Krule
04. Marilyn feat. Micachu
05. SP12 Beat
06. You Look Certain (I'm Not So Sure) feat. Andrea Balency
08. We Go Home Together feat. James Blake
11. How We Got By feat. James Blake