Kiwi Jr.’s Cooler Return is fit to bursting with sunshine. So much sunlight pours from its digital grooves I checked my reflection in the mirror convinced I would have a suntan. Thirteen unabashed tracks that don’t try to be too cool for school (but are cool anyway), they simply skip into your ears, up to your brain and kiss your right frontal cortex, hug your precuneus and lick your left amygdala to trigger production of instant buckets of happy. With the cadence of Jonathan Richmond’s ‘Roadrunner’ and song writing warmth of Teenage Fanclub, chords will descend while root notes hold fast, drums splash around in the waterpark wave machine of jangling guitars and deft bass playing.
Each song has its own perfect charm and story vignettes abound. Lyrics are filled with word play and delicious non-sequiturs such as this from opening track ‘Tyler’: “I was falling apart in the green room, while you drank half the headliner’s rider, now they’ve called the bikers off there’s no threat of violence soon, you work for Microsoft, I scrape the wallpaper off in the new guest bedroom” or “who’s waiting for me at the ATM? rocks in their hands, hands in their pockets. Who’s in the basement of my neighbour’s house? Looking outside everybody’s bleeding” from ‘Domino’. I struggled to single out individual songs in this review as I think the album works as a joy-filled whole, but I did pick out ‘Undecided Voters’ below as your gateway drug to Kiwi Jr. if, like me, you had not heard them before.
I can’t tell if January was the right or wrong time to release this album. The sunny vibe makes perfect sense to brighten the winter gloom but it would also soundtrack your summer perfectly, so I would set yourself a calendar reminder for June to put Cooler Returns on heavy rotation. This is nacho cheese flavoured candyfloss, tequila slammers with cherryade for the fizz or whisky soaked bubble-gum and from the first listen I could hear Ren & Stimpy shouting “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy”. So, huge socially distanced high-fives to Jeremy Gaudet (mic, guitar), Brohan Moore (drums), Mike Walker (bass), and Brian Murphy (guitar) for giving me a new happy place to visit.
The album is available on their Bandcamp page as a digital download plus cassette and coloured vinyl.
Review by Paul F Cook