Mount Kimbie has never sounded stronger than on Love What Survives.Warp, 2017
8.3 / 10
Mount Kimbie make their third album, Love What Survives, with a little help from their friends (please read that in Joe Cocker’s voice). The electronic duo Dominic Maker and Kai Campos expand on what they started with their previous album, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. That album put more attention on vocals and lyrics. With Love What Survives, they enlist several of their close friends for vocal duties. And not just King Krule guests this time! James Blake, Mica Levi (Micachu), and Andrea Balency make appearances. Rather than dance or even electronic music, this album is something different entirely. It’s a remarkable change-up from Mount Kimbie, but one that listeners will likely embrace. The duo has never sounded stronger.
The album opens unassuming enough with “Four Years and One Day”. The song’s soft siren of synths alerts us, but as to what is not yet clear. Then, a percussive beat inches closer from the distance. Finally, it arrives in a sizzling haze of lo-fi. All of the sudden, this track comes to life; reaching the exhilarating highs its build-up promises. But this is merely the beginning.
“Blue Train Lines” finds Mount Kimbie bringing in their buddy King Krule once again. Here, his vocals feel sharp and meaningful with the flow of a hip hop artist. Still, he sing-speaks them in his inebriated style of vocals. However, Mount Kimbie’s urgent composition pairs with it extremely well as King Krule sings about a rough period in his life and witnessing a near suicide. Is this what we would have expected on a Mount Kimbie album four years ago? Not at all.
What’s most interesting about Love What Survives is how insignificant the duo’s instrumental tracks feel here. Rather than steal the show, they work almost as interludes to the tracks with the guest vocalists. As the duo provides the music, they essentially become a band, even a rock band on songs like “You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure)” and the Gorillaz-esque “T.A.M.E.D”. The former feels like a DIIV jam, except with Andrea Balency providing vocals. Again, it’s not settling for genre restrictions of dance. Instead, the duo is capturing a mood.
James Blake stops by twice on “We Go Home Together” and “How We Got By”. The best of these is “We Go Home Together” where Mount Kimbie create an absolutely smashing hip hop vibe. Anytime you combine that with James Blake’s voice, you’ll score instantly. Here, Blake reflects on what sounds like hooking up with someone at the club and going home together. “How We Got By” almost sounds like something James Blake would make rather than Mount Kimbie. Here, it sounds like two worlds colliding — a classical piano mixing with a thick bass-heavy beat.
Despite their instrumental tracks not feeling as important as the songs, Mount Kimbie do solid work here as well. “SP12 Beat” follows the blueprint of “Four Years and One Day”. The song moves past its melodic, soft opening for something more pressing until you can’t ignore it. However, the duo’s best instrumental is “Delta”. The beats pop with intense clarity, leading to what sounds like a train horn blaring. It’s warning whatever is in the way to move. And something will be moved, the listener. “Delta”, along with all of Love What Survives, is a wild pulse-pounding journey.