Hiatus Kaiyote Choose Your Weapon
Published May 01, 2015Melbourne, Australia's Hiatus Kaiyote are equal parts exploratory and tuneful when it comes to their unique "future soul" sound. The Grammy-nominated "neo-soul quartet" got some love for debut album Tawk Tomahawk, on which — along with weighty co-signs by names like Q-Tip, Questlove, Prince and Stevie Wonder — the band nailed down the elements of late '90s, early '00s neo-soul: kick snares, electronic organ and bass guitar, in full effect.
Those expecting more songs like their past hit "Nakamarra" will root for numbers like the modern-minded soul sound of "Shaolin Monk Motherfunk" or the funked up salvo that is the title track. Choose Your Weapon, however, suffers from a tad too much wandering and not enough anxiety over where it is going. This isn't necessarily a bad thing from an artistic standpoint, but there is a lingering sense that a few tracks here could be more emphatic. Songs like "Borderline With My Atoms" and "Breathing Underwater" immediately spring to mind — songs that start out profound yet grow meandering quickly — but then numbers like the soulful, laidback "Fingerprints," the breezy "Building a Ladder" and the playful "Molasses" reinforce the band's cred. It's clear that the group have a better handle on their sound this time out: lead singer/de facto frontperson Nai Palm has a stronger command of her vocals, and the band sound more mature, more graceful this time around.
As it stands, Hiatus Kaiyote have a great thing going — solid chemistry, unlimited potential — but function like they are still feeling out what they're capable of. For those who trust that journey — and you'd do well to be one of them — Choose Your Weapon is a solid groove. (Sony)