Loquat: It’s Yours to Keep (Jackpine Social Club, 2005)

by Jason

Loquat KeepSome discs are just those which are anticipated for long periods of time. As the recording, mixing, and mastering takes place, your “inner-fan” screams out for the day the album is birthed and is in your hands. Well, for me, that day has come in respect to Loquat. It’s Yours To Keep is Loquat’s first international release as well as their first full length. Having released the fabulous Penny Drop EP and the Fall 10″, Loquat proved to be a trip-pop/dream-pop band that swirled out perfect melodies and witty lyrics. Looking toward the future, I anticipated this release hoping beyond hope that they would overtake and outdo their prior releases. I must say, they have done so with flying colors. It’s Yours To Keep demonstrates a matured band with a more subtle ability in their art.

“Take It Back” opens the disc with lightly strummed guitars and Kylee’s angelic, sweet, conversational, perfect voice. What can I say? I think there are singers that just hit you and you can’t hear enough of their voices. Kylee’s is one of those for me. She’s enigmatic and breathtaking. Lyrically, the song is about a couple dealing with their baggage and how to bring that out in the open without killing each other. Maybe an old topic, but Kylee and the boys deliver in a way that makes the topic fresh and interesting. Kylee’s voice sails over seas of great bass, keys, and perfectly written drums. There is even an electronic bass in this song that fits just right and brings a great feel to the chorus. “Rocks” begins with a sort of techno feel that transitions into shimmering guitars. Gordon’s bass work on this song is captivating and completely interesting. Again, Kylee’s vocals are perfect, but it’s just not her tone but also her phrasing. This tune has a deeper, contemplative meaning surrounding old age, death, and afterlife sorts of questions. “Slow, Fast, Wait, and See” has great organ work, perfect percussion, and sprinkles of guitar. The song seems to concentrate on growing up or doing it at one’s own pace. The trippy drums and very subtle instrumentation really show off Loquat’s maturity in this song.

One of my favorite Loquat songs, “Swingset Chain,” makes another appearance on this disc, but it is a new recording. The keys are now brought up in the mix and this creates a more ethereal feel in the tune. The tempo seems to have been slowed down a hair, but the lyrics still impact me the same. Kylee’s vocals really have a story-telling feel to them and the trip-hop drums and gleaming guitars really make this track a highlight for sure. Also, one of my favorite lines in any song is in this track. Kylee expresses her feeling of loss when a friend moves away and states, “I spent my time falling down the stairs.” The image and feelings communicated in that image are perfect for expressing her despair. “Need Air” also has a sense of interpersonal conflict. This has acoustic guitar, sparse drums and subtle bass work with some other sounds here and there. By this time in the album, it is clear that Swenson (Kylee), Otsuka, and Maley are a writing team to be admired. They know how to put together pop songs that are both witty and musically interesting. “Change the Station” starts with very quiet guitars and has one of the best bass lines on the whole disc (for me, that means a lot since the bass work on every song is executed perfectly). “Serial Mess” is about a disturbing dream. The piano work in the song is beautiful and the song is actually funny at parts. Kylee and drummer Christopher Lautz both sing on the chorus of this song to create dreamy vox. It seems that Kylee is running from a serial killer in the dream, but, of course, she is able to speak of things that may be scary in her angelically paradoxical way. One thing Loquat is able to do is to take disturbing topics and make them play against the bright tones of their instruments. It makes for a great listen and fantastic songs.

“It’s Yours to Keep” starts with a Spanish style guitar and striped down drums. Everything on this disc is under-pronounced and subtle in the most perfect way. Otsuka and Manley never overdo the guitars and keys and the percussion accents always bend to the needs of the song. “To the Floor” is also another older song from previously released discs. There are some rather interesting, spacey keys in this that add great accents to the previous arrangements. Again, Kylee demonstrates here ability to write introspective and interesting lyrics. “Eternal Crash,” another old favorite, has been stripped down to piano and Kylee’s fab voice. This ballad really showcases her vocal abilities and lets her shine.

So far, this album is in my top 10 of 2005. Yes, it’s early, but I have heard a lot of discs this year already and this is a stand out piece of work. With Kylee’s vocals on top of subtle, maturely written songs, the album is consistent and there is not one weak track on the whole of the LP. Anyone who loves pop, trip-pop, or dream pop will love this disc. Thanks Loquat for sharing this with the world!

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