Canada’s Mo Kenney returns later this month with a new album, The Details, a collection of scuzzy indie pop that provides a fascinating insight into Kenney’s startling journey of self exploration. The record perfectly captures the emotions of her young adult life, complete with breakdowns, anxiety, depression and disintegrating relationships and continues to demonstrate Kenney’s fearless approach to songwriting. Her lyrics are unflinching and deeply personal, making her instantly relatable and engaging as an artist and makes for the most cohesive work of her career to date.
Kenney explains, “The Details is a 14 song concept album. The album starts off kind of hopeless and gets progressively more optimistic. The album is the details of coming out the other side.” Opening with the short but startling ‘Cat’s Not a Cake’, the tone is set as Kenney implores, “we have a cat, cat is our kid, when we break up, we’ll have to split him in half.” Whilst the short acoustic introduction is disarming when followed by the full bodied punch of early standout ‘On The Roof’, the emotional narrative is set. ‘On the Roof’ also sees her usually smooth vocals bite with a tone reminiscent of Regina Spektor as the taut refrain of, “call me down from the roof again,” is underpinned by a sense of hopelessness and uncertainty.
‘June 3rd‘marks a turning point in the narrative, an acknowledgement of things that could change for the better, although the journey from there is far from straightforward. ‘Out Of The Window’ feels like Kenney is unravelling before you whilst ‘If You’re Not Dead’ sparks with attitude and the effects of ‘Out Of The Window’, a reflection of her self-alienation and destructive attitudes. ‘Unglued’ moves with an anxious, self-depreciating tone, whilst ‘Lights Out’ is a moment of relative calm, allowing Kenney’s beautifully haunting vocals to shine. The taut and dark moments continue right up to album closer ‘Feelin Good’, which provides a satisfying and reassuring end, with Kenney finding peace and calm within herself. The emotive narrative created takes the listener along every step of the way and is testament to the strength of her songwriting.
Sonically, the album moves from classic rock to scuzzy pop via psychedelia, Americana, alt and post-grunge and marks a departure from the acoustic led work of her past two records. Both of those albums had been overseen by long-time producer and mentor, Joel Plaskett, who identified Kenney’s talent whilst she was in school. The Details sees her push forward on her own, with the “plugging in” of her Fender Mustang symbolic of this. The album rattles along with some tracks no more than 30 seconds long and few exceeding three minutes. In spite of this, the record does not feel rushed or the narrative underdeveloped and instead it is a captivating and authentic journal of Kenney’s experiences since the release of second album, In My Dreams, backed by a fantastic musical soundscape, marking a high point in her young career.
The Details is due to be released on 29 September via Pheromone Recordings and can be pre-ordered HERE.
Mo Kenney is also playing at The Slaughtered Lamb, London on September 25th to launch the album, with details of a full UK Tour to follow.
Words: Will Sutton