Indie Pop With Edge: New Kuri Album ‘I Love You, You’re Welcome’ Stands Above the Rest
Indie pop — which is pop that’s not as popular as it wants to be — is such a bane to modern music. The breathy vocals, the slavish production echo, the lyrics that might as well be in your own private made-up language, the entire genteel inoffensiveness of it: it’s mind-numbing. Let it be outrageously over the top or melodic and subtle. Let it be experimental and abrasive or hook-laden and harmonious. Let it be, well, something, because most of the time it’s absolutely nothing at all.
Kuri, the name under which Vancouver resident Scott Currie records, is indie pop by default: smart, searching, gliding melodies with smart, searching, buoyant lyrics that’s too good for the currently stale homogenization of what passes in the Top 10 these days.
His latest release — I Love You, You’re Welcome — consists of eight tracks that pass by over a brief half-hour, its pleasures readily apparent to the ear and lyrics that, while they might not rank up there with Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell (I mean, what does?), at least try to define a state of mind, an emotion, maybe even an entire goddamn scenario.
“This record is me trying to scratch every artsy and/or complex musical itch I have while creating something that feels accessible and familiar,” Kuri has said. “Basically, I like to play in weird time signatures, but in a way that my mom can still sing along.”
He succeeds in what he set out to do — no doubt somebody’s very hip mom will be cougaring around with a Kuri tour shirt soon enough. Opener “Collider” is a Bon Iver tune as if sung by Rufus Wainwright channeling Arcade Fire. “I Don’t Wanna Sing About Love” may musically be the simplest track here, yet it has a massing grandeur that accentuates its underlying melancholy. And the closing “Somebody’s Eyes” is chiming, yearning pop — not a song about love, but that’s how it presents.
Kuri brings his skills as a soundtrack composer to the quieter tracks, which take over the second half of the record. “I Try Not to Be Swallowed Whole” is a cry in the dark, as tremulously emotional as the great gay up-and-comer Jake Wesley Rogers. A slow, bluesy dirge — “All Things Become Funny” — is nearly Smithsian in its bleakness (his phrasing is Morrissey sad). And “Modern Mayhem” is a high school reminiscence as horrifying and universal as it needs to be.
“This song in particular is about the ways I would mask myself, as many people do, and the ways in which I would find comfort and freedom in the ‘confines of my room,’” he has said. “We all found ways to fit in and find a sense of belonging, even if that meant sacrificing things we loved about ourselves.”
Kuri isn’t sacrificing any of those things on I Love You, You’re Welcome. With his sophomore release, he’s more genuinely himself than ever, and it’s that authenticity that gives his indie pop the edge.
I Love You, You’re Welcome, the sophomore album from Kuri, is out now.
Photos of Kuri by Camille Candia