Author of "The Birth And Impact Of Britpop: Mis-Shapes, Scenesters And Insatiable Ones"
It was right that we should merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found (Luke 15:32, King James Version)
I was lost, now I’m found (“Movin’ On Up” - Young, Gillespie, Innes)
If I told you that I can’t even remember the date of our wedding, would you believe me? It’s so long ago now.
Everything has changed.
Including the fact that we are no longer married.
Here is what I do know, it happened at some point in the summer of 1998. I was 25, she was a little younger. I had a “real job” that had cost me my place in my own band, apparently earning a living wasn’t compatible with the rock and roll dreams we all had. I had a mortgage to pay. I was, tentatively, starting to grow up. There were still a few last hurrahs for the old ways, some time spent following Gene around on the “Revelations” tour I remember. But something changed that summer.
It didn’t last. Before we reached ten years it was all over. I could tell you the tale, but what would be the point? It wouldn’t be the truth. It would just be my story. Always two sides, right? Maybe. When it did finish it was with a bit of a whimper, all the fire, the filth, and the fury had been used up before the wedding, if I’m being honest. What followed was emotional atrophy, love giving way to familiarity…and we all know what that breeds.
But in 1998, as “our story” was beginning, the story of The Kynd was drawing to an end. Their debut album was still a few months away, arriving in February of 1999, but the writing was on the wall. “Musical differences”? Exhaustion? Sick of the sight of one another? Seeing the writing that was on the wall for what dullards insist on calling “guitar music”? Who knows, but whatever was going on in The Kynd was enough to kill the whole thing dead while I was still in the honeymoon period of a relationship that I now remember next to nothing about.
By 2000 they were gone. Like a lot of other bands, Lick and Soda being the two best examples, the tidal wave of joy that was Britpop had started to lose momentum at exactly the wrong moment for them. The sort of music they were making, melodic, shimmering, indie pop, hints of (whisper it) American influences was being drowned out by the tumult of Dad Rock. It could have been a brilliant career, they could just have said “Fuck it” and started churning out the sort of thing that saw Nowaysis getting a record deal, but they had principles (and talent), so that was never an option.
Farewell to the playground.
Now here we are nearly a quarter of a century later, different places and worn out faces. Everything is different now, everything is the same as it was before.
This is a world where a radio DJ who has the job of playing music, of promoting bands, has just declared that most unsigned bands are shit. This is a world where indie music don’t mean what it meant before. This is a world where all you really need to be heralded as the bestest best new best band in the whole wide world is a shed and a cagoule. Fine. I fought, I lost. You win.
What hope could there be for The Kynd in a world like this?
Except if you were always a little bit better than your sales and “media footprint” might suggest.
Unless you were back with something that was even better than the good stuff from all those years ago.
Then you might have hope.
But we don’t live in a world like that.
It couldn’t be.
There are those who would have you believe that there is a Britpop revival taking place, that scans of mouldy copies of old music papers from 1997, and Blur topping up their bank accounts with some stadium shows, have somehow reinvigorated what these same people insist on calling “guitar music”. Thankfully there isn’t a Britpop revival, certainly not in any meaningful sense. The charts will remain untroubled by the myriad bloke rockin’ beats that so beguile middle-aged men who have remained trapped in a moment they can’t get out of.
The return of The Kynd is, praise be to all the Gods, not an attempt to jump on a bandwagon that doesn’t exist, instead it is a rekindling of previously fractured relationships, a desire to write a new chapter in a story that had promised so much, a drive to create and to say something. Everyone in the band has a “real” job now, new lives, homes and families. If this was about revivalism they would have blagged a spot on any of the nostalgia tours that clutter up the summer schedule and played the old songs over and over, then run off with the money for a holiday in the Maldives or something.
“Timelines” is new music from an old band. It is the sound of stories being told from new perspectives. Much like late period Suede, The Kynd show no interest in singing songs about “having it” or the thrills of drunken nights in The Good Mixer. That isn’t their life, that isn’t their story. There are other bands who do treat their “art” as some sort of live action role play event, living out the dreams they had as children, managing to ignore the past thirty years, and the lines on their faces, to give a sort of tribute band version of a band who didn’t ever exist. I’m naming no names.
Lazy listeners may see this as a collection of songs that sound British, or English, they will find ways to shoe horn in the usual suite of references for any band who made music in the nineties. But “Timelines”, if you are really listening, owes more to R.E.M. than to the now barren corpse of sixties beat bands that, inexplicably, some people think can still inspire anything other than boredom. There is the sort of fragile swagger that infused the very finest (work)songs of R.E.M at their peak.
It’s been a long time coming, but “Timelines” proves that the really interesting bands, the artists worth your love in the nineties, weren’t always the ones on the front cover of Select, and they certainly aren’t the ones who have inspired a legion of increasingly dull copyists in the years since. The Kynd were worth your love then, but you didn’t give it. They are back again, don’t make the same mistake twice.
‘Timelines' is released on March the 10th and is available to order now on The Kynd’s Bandcamp.