“Witty, idiosyncratic indie rock that is to a band like Maroon 5 what a film like Sideways is to one like Miss Congeniality 2… These are songs to not just listen to, but explore, a series of musical masks donned by an artist with keen insight and an outsized sense of playfulness.” —The Daily Vault
Singer-songwriter Mark Doyon barely remembers when he first heard the 5th Dimension singing the Jimmy Webb song, “Up, Up and Away.” But sometime in the late ’60s, the sunny pop tune made itself at home in his preschool mind.
“It wasn’t just the melody or performance that got to me. It was the message of this balloon floating through the sky. And suggesting anyone could try that.”
Fast-forward to 2016 and Doyon is talking about The Helium Age, the fourth album from Arms of Kismet. True to its origins, it takes a bird’s-eye view, from the salad days of youth to the epiphanies of middle age. “I was watching my kids grow up, seeing my parents get older… and realizing I was right in the middle, learning from all of them.”
From paeans to lost innocence (“Angels in the Snow,” “Careless World”) to ruminations on time’s passage (“Greyhound,” “Forever”) to odes to art and love (“F. Scott and Everything He Wrote,” “S.O.S.”), The Helium Age whirls through a multi-colored sky. Flecks of Dylan and the Clash and the Flaming Lips, the Kinks and Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman, stream like light through a kaleidoscope.
“Sometimes I hear an inflection in one of my songs,“ Doyon says, “and I realize an artist I heard years ago left me a few breadcrumbs. When I started thinking about the balloon, I really didn’t know why. It just seemed random. And then it was obvious.”
Arms of Kismet summons a warm, analog vibe that sounds as natural in a coffeehouse as it does on a car radio. Guitars and dancebeats coat sugary melodies and fractured lyrics, blending genres in offbeat and revelatory ways. Brooding and poppy, funny and foreboding, it’s toe-tapping, tragicomic rock ‘n’ roll.
Also available from Wampus: Eponymous, Cutting Room Rug, and Play for Affection.