Kite Parade is a project of multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Andy Foster, and Retro is the second album from them. I always enjoy discovering new artists that immediately hit that pop/rock/prog sweet spot such as Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side, Frost*, or Lifesigns, and Kite Parade is an admirable addition to that elite list.
Right off the bat, the first song, Retro, evokes the best of ’80s rock with a pulsing synthbeat while snippets of TV ads play in the background. Foster’s vocals remind me a little of Kyros’s Adam Warne. He has an unerring sense of melody throughout the song that had me hitting replay several times.
Speed of Light, the second track, kicks off with a funky bass groove and propulsive melody that reminds me of classic OSI (Office of Strategic Influence). The brief loping guitar solo midway through is excellent and sets things up for the final, exhilarating chorus. Both Nick D’Virgilio and Joe Crabtree play drums on the album, and it sounds like D’Virgilio is playing on this song.
The next track, Wonderful, is the single (scroll down to watch the official video), and at first I thought it was a letdown from the joyous pop/rock energy of the first two tracks. It starts off sounding like many a generic ballad, but it slowly builds energy throughout. Then, at the 2:50 mark, Foster puts a nice twist in the melody that takes the song to an entirely new level. Keys and guitars trade solos, adding layer upon layer of sound that make this a standout song. Great choice for a single, guys!
The next two songs, Shadows Fall and Under the Same Sun, continue the winning streak. The former is a mini-epic, clocking in at more than 9 minutes. However, Foster’s gift for providing endless musical hooks makes the time fly by.
Retro closes with the 14+ minute-long Merry-Go-Round, which deftly avoids any “hmm, how much longer?” thoughts in the listener. As a matter of fact, the entire album is such an enjoyable experience, I listened to it three times in a row without a break.
We’re almost a third of the way into 2023, and so far Retro is my favorite album. It’s a perfect mix of, well, retro synths, catchy melodicism, tasty guitar riffs, and pleasing vocals. If you’re looking for some nice ear candy with a prog rock feel, you can’t do much better than Kite Parade.
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