Mount Kimbie's first record, from 2010, is arguably one of the best debut albums of the decade thus far. Then, with Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, they changed gear considerably — but who could blame them? No one wants to be labelled under a genre as pretentious sounding as post-dubstep forever.
For fans of their earlier work, the bad news is this latest record, Love What Survives, continues along the same path as their sophomore album. Then again, those who saw potential in that shift will be glad to know that they've done a much better job of it here.
Choosing who to collaborate with can make or break an album, and on the face of it, Mount Kimbie have done an excellent job in that regard: King Krule, Micachu, James Blake — we're talking the voices of a young British generation here. Sadly, the collabs don't sound as good as they do on paper. "Blue Train Lines (ft. King Krule)" is nowhere near as good as "You Took Your Time" (also featuring Krule) from a few years ago, while "We Go Home Together (ft. James Blake)" is a track that many heard (and likely forgot) months ago. That said, the second Blake song on the album, "How We Got By," is a far better display of everyone's talents; its sombre piano clinks and perfectly echoed vocals make for a stirring end to the album.
Then there's "Marilyn (ft. Micachu)," which is far and away the best collaboration that Love What Survives has to offer. With what sounds like gamelan in the background and some uplifting horns, the song is all set to be chipper, but the ever-so-slightly pained vocals of Micachu start to make you question whether this is a happy song or a sad one. Repeat listens provide zero answers, but they do give you renewed appreciation.
The whole album is like that, actually. There's nothing here that really grabs you on the first listen, but return to the record a few times and you'll end up carrying songs like the aforementioned "Marilyn" and "T.A.M.E.D" around with you for days. Love What Survives is a grower for sure. Mount Kimbie may never return to the height of those first few releases, but we'll still be here for another while yet. (Warp)