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Album Review: Kate Boy – One

2 min read

Kate Boy’s self-titled EP released earlier this year seemed like a sign of great things to come; with six solid synth-pop tracks, similar in sound but playing with different elements, it was apparent that Kate Boy knew where they were going with their sound, and exactly how they wanted their debut album to pan out. Sure enough, One follows a very similar framework and continues in a familiar style, for better or for worse.

Kate Boy OneAll of the self-titled EP tracks appear on the album, mixed in with seven new songs; they make up some of the album’s most compelling material, which makes sense given their status as promotional tracks of sorts, but the oldest two—Northern Lights and In Your Eyes—are the strongest. The slow swagger of Northern Lights is already solid on its own, but stands out with the screeching synths of its middle eight that last through to its conclusion, ending the song perfectly. This is especially welcome as songs sometimes struggle with their endings on One: Burn is a major example, with its skipping synth beeps and breezy intro leading into a dark, almost aquatic sounding track; one that fades out far too soon, creating a bit of an anticlimactic moment for an otherwise brilliant track.

Of the newer tracks on the album, its most recent promotional single Midnight Sun stands far and above the rest, even topping the EP tracks in terms of quality. Its frantic start-stop beat and sparkling chorus feel distinct from the remainder of the album, glistening with a vibrancy and life that often feels missing from the new tracks that follow it. Human Engine is notable for its racing bass line, and Temporary Line’s slower tempo and attitude feels like a nice departure, but some other new tracks fall back on similar styles far too often, which in turn leaves it mostly relying on its promotional catalogue to stand out.

That’s not to say that One as a whole is unsatisfying: There’s a very compelling sound behind the album, and between its rousing promotional tracks and some stellar new material, it all works well together. It still has its fair share of weaker new tracks though, which meld into the pack thanks to their similar sound and therefore don’t get as much of a chance to shine as they should. Had they expanded on their sound and tried to take it into some brand new places sonically, One could have been a truly amazing debut album. Regardless, it’s still a more than fitting end to their three year long introductory period, and leaves one eager to experience their next endeavours.