Friday, 1 June 2012

The Video World of Kindness

"World, You Need A Change Of Mind" Teaser Video

Kindness, aka Adam Bainbridge, makes often sultry but usually fun house music that wears its maker's influences on his sleeve: Arthur Russell, Prince, and overseas contemporaries such as Ariel Pink and Toro Y Moi. His debut album, produced in association with Philipe Zdar of Cassius (who has also worked with the likes of Phoenix and the Rapture) is entitled World, You Need A Change Of Mind and was released back in March. I've been listening to it quite a lot recently, and forgive me if I haven't made up my mind about it completely yet, but it is addictive stuff. A whole new level of appeal comes from it's associated music videos, which play out more like extended pastiches most of the time. They seem to exist more for themselves than they help the listener with a visual accompniment to songs from the album, but there clearly is a lot of love there. Bainbridge is a real personality with a strand of British humour that in addition to the music has earned him a dedicated following. Tounge-in-cheek is not the word.

"Cyan" - (dir. Adam Bainbridge)

This first video was posted on YouTube a while back (October 2011) and is easily the simplest we've seen from Kindness. It's just Bainbridge walking around New York, and occasionally in front of a cyan-coloured screen (get it?). It's pretty well filmed though, some especially nice dark shots towards the end, and the bouncy feel of the song makes it feel adventurous.

"Gee Up" (dir. Adam Bainbridge)

Here things start to get weird. "Gee Up" really shows off Bainbridge's oddball personality. The song itself is under two minutes long, so the rest of the video is filled out by a series of unconnected on-set jokes. an angry, unimpressed French director looks on as Bainbridge inspects his bandmate's legs (notice, a completely different band to that playing the song). And we never do find out what the band spends all their money on.

"House" (dir. Dan Brereton)

You'd be forgiven for not even calling this one a real music video, as the song barely features at all. Bainbridge begins with a faithful reinterpretation of Leonard Bernstein's 1967 CBS documentary Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution (here in full if you have the time), but then teaches a kid how to play the drum machine parts of the song, before they both end up dancing vigorously. How Bainbridge maintains a straight face here is beyond me, some excellent ad-libbing going on.

Thoughts on World, You Need A Change Of Mind
Like I said, still not completely sure. For every compelling moment there is at least another average one. The strongest moments are the three songs featured in the videos, and "That's Alright", a huge, progressive disco number that comes out of nowhere. Two of the songs are covers and are found early on in the album: the Replacements' "Swingin Party" and "Anyone Can Fall In Love" by Anita Dobson are pretty unique and bold choices, but are executed mostly well once you can get past the idea you're listening to the Eastenders theme. The remaining tracks aren't bad but are mostly forgettable, and this is after hearing them several times. If I keep listening to this album I might eventually put it on the 2012 Recommended Albums list, but my scepticsm is keeping me at bay for now.

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