Sitting squarely at the intersection of fuzzy lo-fi pop and 8th-wave slacker psych, Kissed by an Animal’s eponymous debut album is one of the best things to come out of the Brooklyn scene in recent memory. It gets started with Lemonade, the kind of track that gets instantly stuck in your head, and warrants play after play as you stumble home drunk after a show. It asks questions with no answers and paints a picture that is nonspecific, yet the song is entirely relatable. Honestly, what sticks with me most after a few listens isn’t the melodies, screeching guitars, and pounding rhythm section (all of which are exemplary); it’s the deft use of abstract imagery to convey a unique artistic vision.
Lead singer/guitarist Dima Drjuchin is a talented visual artist (the album cover is a great example of his work), and it should serve as no surprise that he understands how to connect emotionally to the listener without being predictable, cliché, or sappy. On the track Animal, a slow, winding, semi-acoustic ballad that features intermittent guitar solos, Drjuchin warns of the toll time travel will take on your soul. It strikes me as a metaphor for trying to stay active in the music scene as you age, but I may be projecting. In fact, I am projecting, because that’s what good lyrics make the listener do; they make you put yourself into the equation.
The Good Times Are Here Again is perhaps the best single off the album (the band plans to release a music video, animated by Drjuchin), and it’s another catchy, scrappy, unpolished, yet unblemished rocker that allows the band’s talent to show. The rhythm section, composed of scene veterans Jon Daily and Tsugumi Takashi, doesn’t miss a beat on this whole album, transitioning seamlessly from passage to passage while Drjuchin’s wild guitars hover above like sonic eagles dosed with LSD. Other highlights include the jangly second track, Don’t Give Me That Face, which is about a strained relationship (though the details are unclear), and In The Clouds, which is a slower number with a bouncy backbeat and somewhat sorrowful slide guitar.
All in all, this album is full of well-written songs, strong musicianship, and engaging lyrics. It’s cool, in an outsider sort of way. Lemonade and Good Times definitely deserve spots on your next playlist, and the album itself will be a treat for anyone who digs loud, retro-inspired indie rock.
-Stephen Perry (Sweet Static)