Nicholas Wood might have started The KVB as a bedroom project in his hometown of Southampton, but it was inevitable he'd end up in his spiritual home of Berlin at some point. The duo - partner Kat Day joined in 2010 - and their icy, electronic darkwave fits in with the city's industrial landscape and musical heritage, albeit gleaned from other celebrated artists relocating there from various corners of the globe.
So it probably comes as no surprise to hear that Of Desire, their fifth album in as many years references the holy trinity of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed on several occasions. Nevertheless, that only reveals a slender part of both The KVB's and Of Desire's overall make-up.
Taken to heart by both the shoegaze and psych rock communities in recent years, it's worth noting that while they've played with many artists associated with the aforementioned genres at a host of festivals specifically geared towards that mantle, their sound owes more to the early 1980s club scene affiliated with such venues as London's Blitz, Amsterdam's Paradiso or the Phonographique in Leeds. However, The KVB would probably be horrified at any outlandish suggestion they're closet goths or new romantics either, and rightly so.
While their previous long player Mirror Being was technically a collection of outtakes and instrumental recordings collated from the band's studio archives, the one before it, 2013's Immaterial Visions was the record that alerted many eyes and ears to their wares. Harsh in both execution and delivery, there was a commonality with bands such as A Place To Bury Strangers or K-X-P in what they were doing.
So it's notable from the outset they've chosen to take a more studied diversion with Of Desire, their second release on Geoff Barrow's Invada label. Although not as immediate as Immaterial Visions or the diminutive Out Of Body EP that succeeded it, Of Desire concentrates more on the way it flows as an album and for the most part, gets that aspect spot on to a tee. From the repetitive looped synths of opener 'White Walls' - think Suicide given a makeover by Ulrich Schnauss - to the harder edged but similar motorik driven 'Night Games' and beyond, there's a feeling Wood and Day intentionally set out their stall when making this record. Almost to the point of deliberately arranging the tracklisting so it's akin to that of a setlist, giving Of Desire an almost live feel about it at times.
What doesn't do the album any favours is the lack of diversity at times. Granted, a two-piece electronic outfit are never going to reinvent the wheel, and as a band specialising in what they do it's difficult to argue the case for anyone that does this kind of thing better at present. When they do let the shackles loose as on intense death disco grinder 'Never Enough' or former single 'In Deep', they're a more rewarding proposition.
With the guards fully released towards the end of the record, there's a humane poignancy about the delectable 'Mirrors' and haunting tones of 'Second Encounter', the latter eerily reminiscent of John Leyton & The Outlaws' 'Johnny Remember Me'. While not entirely unique, both provide a distinguished finale to Of Desire and one which suggests The KVB's finest hour might be just around the corner.
Watch this space.
7Dom Gourlay's Score