“Sibling pop duo” Klashing Black, out of Northwest Ohio, dropped their debut full-length album, Who We Were. Who We Are. last Friday, August 17. Smooth lyrics deal with nostalgia, growing up, and the classic and ever-constant theme of change as the background is filled with either rich synth or mellow guitar picking and ’80s-inspired drum beats.
Who We Were. Who We Are. opens with a half-title track, “Who We Were”, that serves as an introduction and a palate cleanser all at once. Clocking in at just under a minute, the warping synth and quiet vocals welcome you into the album just before the first few tracks.
It is slow and rich at first; the first six tracks are, for the most part, ballad-type pop songs and between sweet guitar picking and decadent, languid synth, there’s a heaviness to them that adds to the weight of the nostalgia as frontman Kyle Benner croons, “Stay on the playground/Where you can be who you are/Stay on the playground/Don’t drift too far” on “Playground”. It is all sauntering in pace, in no rush to grow up, but clear bell-toned melodies chime through on everything, maintaining a delicate touch among otherwise sentimentality-soaked lyrics.
The album does jump around in sound, however; about halfway through, “Emptiness” and “Who We Are” are buzzing, harsh electronic pop songs. That is not to say that they’re not well-written tracks–”Emptiness” is intricate and thick and just downright cool when it bursts into the chorus, with layers upon layers of sound piling up–but the timing is abrupt. It is a surprising shift every time, and it is mildly aggravating that the transitions are not as smooth as they could be.
The last five tracks are just as back-and-forth. “Sandbox” is acoustic and mellow again as Benner sings, “I’m scared and unprepared/Is that the way it’s meant to be?”, but almost immediately after, “Magic” is light and poppy with a cute, bright guitar melody that shines through the sadness of the previous tracks. The album ends in the same alternating way, although thankfully, the final track–”Drift Away”–aligns a little more with the first part of the album, echoing and grinding all at once.
Klashing Black exhibits a clear mastery of the alternative pop genre by bouncing from sound to sound in each new song. It is impressive, but it is also a little jarring, and Who We Were. Who We Are. could stand to be rearranged or have smoother transitions between slow pop ballad and driving dance track.
Originally published on Indientry on August 26, 2018.