The Kissing Machine
4 Track, EP (2012, Independent)
The delay for Dappled Cities’ fourth album has impelled singer-guitarist Tim Derricourt to do the side project thing. More than a mere snack to tide us over, however, this four-song name-your-price EP (available via Bandcamp) stands well on its own without taking a radical departure from his usual act.
Guesting Dappled bandmate Ned Cooke on production and some keys, Swimwear distils Derricourt’s swooning pop into lightweight collisions of shiny synths, ticking beats and pencil-thin guitar lines. They sound like demos in the best way: skeletal and in no danger of being overworked. Derricourt has called them “tracks of unbridled joy” and Swimsuit “wild, camp dance music made to make you feel good”, and there is certainly a lot of exultant sincerity on display. Opener ‘Nowhere to Run’ offers instant levity and romance, complete with playful, butter-smooth vocals.
Jingle-worthy infectiousness aside, these songs giftwrap smart, heartfelt lyrics in tidy packages. “Won’t someone let me be the man I want to be?/Cause all that I see is a man dressed as me,” laments Derricourt on the liquid, Pet Shop Boys-leaning backdrop of ‘Knocks’. On ‘Highs and Lows’, which opens on a plucky note recalling The Cure’s ‘Close to Me’, he almost runs himself breathless with this string of confession: “I’m like a bouncing ball, multi-coloured and all/Living only through your throw and bouncing back and forth.” The feeling is mimicked in elastic beats, and overall we’re reminded that you really need very little to hang a song on.
Of these four, ‘Easy High’ could best pass for Dappled Cities. It marries an almost hip-hop beat to an unassuming keyboard shuffle and handy bass line, all while providing more patient and searching than the manic-minded ditties before it.
Swimwear has origins in the beach, where Derricourt was learning to surf, and there’s some of that archetypal breeziness on The Kissing Machine. But that’s only part of it. The real source of continued fascination is Derricourt’s no-frills pop craftsmanship. Dappled Cities have done well in the past chasing their ambitions, but sometimes the best moments are found while taking a holiday from all that.
by Doug Wallen