CD, A Different Drum, 2008
As time passes by and more people are driven to form bands, so it becomes clear that all the good names are being used up rapidly. Many bands now have some uncomfortably silly names, whereas others may take words from obscure foreign languages or just make some nonsense up. I can’t quite tell which category Swedish synthiepop quartet KieTheVez really fall into, but they have been operating under that moniker since the early 90’s, after a few years under the simpler names West End and Yellowstone. It took quite some searching through their webpage to discover any clue as to what this name might mean, something about “Kie” being a mediator and “Vez” being thoughts, and it still isn’t clear how to pronounce the name. Luckily, the new album, “Non-Binary” offers up eleven tracks of quality synthpop the likes of which the Swedes seem to be born to write, with no confusion about meaning or intent.
“One World For The Next” opens the album effectively with smooth vocal harmonies and subtle rock guitar in the strong chorus, setting the scene with a softly tragic feeling that permeates throughout the following tracks. The high standard is consistent, through “A Million Days”, with its sombre melody, and “End Of A Bright Night”, which sounds so instantly familiar, in a good way, that it would be the definite choice for a hit single release. A pleasant rest is found in the minimal ballad, “How Are We Doing Today?”, building with its quirky tunes, before “Non Compos Mentis” moves forward to the dance floor, giving a more hopeful mood compared to that felt elsewhere. “Always A Boy” has more prominent lead guitar, almost pushing it into commercial indie pop territory, topped with yet another moving chorus, and it’s an all too short time as the next songs bring us to the closer “26”, with its sweet “far from over” refrain.
This is then a very accomplished and mature sounding record, where the years of experience are evident in the skilful combination of subtle synth work, considered guitar playing and clean, melodic singing. There are the usual criticisms aimed at most bands operating at the more polished end of the synthpop spectrum, that it’s too cheesy and sentimental, and possibly too reminiscent of certain larger acts, but in their own modest way KieTheVez display enough bright ideas and individual charm to make this an album well worth adding to your collection.
— Nathan Clemence