Since bursting onto the Boston scene in 2011, Animal Talk have quickly built a reputation for an impressive live show that can entice even the most reluctant in the crowd to groove. 2011’s self-titled EP delivered a sound many described as post-dance rock — what genres mean these days, it’s not easy to tell, but this one serves fairly well. Solid rock with pinned undercurrents of indie dance-pop made for a sound that jaded Gen-X’ers could embrace. Of particular note was the catchy as hell “Can’t Dance With It” which, in its cleverly ironic way, proved irresistible for dancing.
On their sophomore EP, Animal Talk have truly hit their stride, carving out a sound that defies neat little genre boxes. For a child of the late 70’s or early 80’s, Kid is a nostalgic whirlwind, tapping into elements of disco, groove rock, pop and even a dash of Motown sensibility. From the moment opener “Tie Me Up” revs up and ignites the senses, the band’s growth is readily apparent: guitar riffs are tight and pop out with playful emphasis; the synthpop hovering around the edges on their previous outing is allowed free reign to great success; and percussive punches and sly bass lines lure the feet into endless motion.
The contrast in style between tracks serves to further create the impression of a life lived in song, each track a new chapter to devour. Where “Mama Was A Teenage Rocker” captures the struggle to reconcile the image of our parents with their own youth — and conversely, the thought that we, too, must grow older — through a driving rock number, “World’s On Fire” and “Color Wheel” tap heavily into funk and soul, capturing the mesmerizing power of young love (and, perhaps, psychedelics, if such was your teenage poison). It’s to his credit that vocalist Steven Kilgore can shift so easily between the nuances of each genre, a chameleon with serious charisma, matched perhaps only by the likes of Daft Punk and Jamiroquai.
There’s a maturity to Kid, though; don’t mistake this quintet of tunes for something simple or juvenile. Love, lust and identity lurk beneath the clever wordplay of Animal Talk’s lyrics. It’s what elevates their music to something beyond merely danceable. Self-doubt and the uncertainty of navigating adulthood collide with an exuberance of youth in juxtaposition — almost a challenge to the listener to keep the child inside us alive and grooving.
If the dreamy optimism of childhood could be distilled for consumption, Animal Talk’s Kid would be a rare and prized vintage. Drink deep, music lovers.
Highlights: “Tie Me Up”; “Mama Was A Teenage Rocker”; “Color Wheel”
Final Grade: A+
Grab your own copy of Kid via the band’s official site, or stream below and fall in love.