[Album Review] Kestrels- Kestrels
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)


Release Date: September 30th, 2016
Label: Sonic Unyon

Kestrels’ pulled a bold move and made this the eponymous album. You only get one in the industry, and it’s important to make it notable. To self-title an album is basically defining the sound of the band. I believe that Kestrels produced a solid and thoroughly cohesive compilation of their project with this record. The album is 40-ish minutes long and has a track listing of ten songs. It is long enough to feel complete and showcases some distinctive songwriting and instrumentation. It has a similar trance-inducing shoegaze overlay that can be compared to My Bloody Valentine or DIIV.

At times during my first couple of listens, I zoned out and thought I was listening to Loveless. The soft, melodic vocals and harmonies on each track are reminiscent of 90’s shoegaze sounds. Paired with fuzzy guitars and a vibrating bass tone, Kestrels created this feeling in their music without going overboard on the aesthetic. The drums are so solid and really accentuate the technical ability of the band. Unique guitar solos are interspersed throughout the album in unconventional places, and the chording sounds warm and grand. Most songs open with a tricked out guitar riff, and then the drums kick in. One of my favourite tracks, “Neko”, opens this way and incorporates some drone and noise elements which really pull the listener into the song. As the song continues, repetitive vocal melodies are added in that create a dazed atmosphere in the track. The song ends at an appropriate time to not become redundant.

The entire album seems familiar, but it’s more like the 90’s with a kick in the pants. It is a great listen, but there is not much that Kestrels brought to the album that is new and exciting. It’s something you’ve heard before. It’s more like- if you like this, you’ll like Kestrels. I have never seen Kestrels live, which is typically an entirely different experience than listening to a band through earbuds so I don’t know what they bring to the table in that regard. I think they have defined themselves sonically with this album, and there is room for experimentation in their future.

Lastly, the album artwork for this record is well-fitting for the sound. It is a backlit photograph of the back of a person’s head who is standing in front of some interesting lighting contraption. It adds to the dreamlike state of the album and is another check on their list of aesthetically pleasing album artwork.