Kafka are an alternative rock pop duo from Amsterdam, The Netherlands whose song writing style combines the classic with the experimental to great effect in their debut album Out of Tune.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo by Edland Man
I was immediately struck by the poetic lyrics of the album’s opening track Goldfish. It combines natural imagery and human emotion in a pop rock style that simultaneously channels the folky sound of Paul Simon while bringing something completely fresh and unique. Add to that charismatic vocals and upbeat instrumentals, and you have a recipe for something great.
Track two Shimmering Light introduces an anthemic feel and vocal harmonies that reminded me of Of Monsters And Men. A simple and perfectly-formed love story, I was fully hooked by its climactic conclusion. The harmonies flow through to the jazzy Late-night Lover.
The two members of Kafka both bring something to the table. The lead vocals come courtesy of the angelic Dafne Holtland who is also responsible for the joyful guitar melodies. Frank van Kasteren brings an ear for composition and soft vocal harmonies. Both their parts are beautifully showcased in the slow-burning ballad A Memory.
Look At The Sky is an acoustic, percussive wonder. These Are The Nights is a darkly upbeat meditation on the art of fun in which Frank takes lead vocals. Booty Call is a tactile piece of experimental electronica, and before you know it you’re halfway through the album. Time flies when you’re having fun.
The second half kicks off with Ode To A City. Continuing with the electronic vibe, there’s also an undercurrent of jazz and vaudeville. It serves quite a different vibe from where the album started and is the album’s low-point energy-wise. It’s also a brilliant example of Kafka’s range.
It’s juxtaposed by the gently stripped-back Here’s To You, then comes the brightly, EDM-esque Into The Sunlight. You really just never know what’s going to come next on this album! Well, in this case, it’s title track Out of Tune which provides a rock-folk late album highlight. The title references the idea that in the modern world we are out of tune with nature, one of the album’s key themes.
Wrapping things up are the layered, environmentally-conscious tapestry of Burned-Down Paradise, the distorted, experimental So Cold In Berlin and the soulful, a Capella, Amber. My immediate feeling when things finished? I wanted to start the album again from the beginning. Out of Tune is a record I’ll definitely be returning to, and Kafka are a band I’ll be keeping my eye on.
You can listen to Out of Tune below.