[Album Review] KASHKA- Relax
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

Release Date: July 1st, 2017
Label: Independent

Some album titles describe what to listen for. This one suggests what to feel. Toronto-based KASHKA’s new album “Relax” delivers that feeling, but not like what you hear in a health spa or an office-tower elevator.

“Relax” is driven by a blend of modern synths and old-fashioned strings. Right away on “New Moon Blues,” you notice how well they play together. The synths aren’t confined to a drone, and strings don’t hog the melody. Percussion, sparingly used, gives each song just enough forward motion.

There is a genuine story arc to this album. The vast, dream-like quality of the first few songs rise toward busier arrangements like “Signs” and “Holding Steady.” The last two tracks bring us back down with added intimacy. “New Moon Blues” (track 2) asked far-out questions like, “Where do we go, oh when we die?/Do we become all of the black in the night sky?” In contrast, the final track “Reset” imagines closer human relationships: “If we all strip it back, find out what we’re missing/We can all reconnect, remember how it used to be.”

One of this album’s strongest features is its subtle variations. KASHKA doesn’t get stuck with one synth tone or rhythm. There are similarities between tracks, but you can always pick out something new in the texture. This makes repeated listens enjoyable.

If you’re feeling tense, a dose of KASHKA’s self-described “folkpoptronica” sound might be just what you need.