Kylie is a storyteller at heart, expressing loneliness and heartbreak with sincere lyrics. Filled with clever rhymes and a satisfying overall arc, her debut EP Balcony is an intersection of pop and folk, evocative of an older Joni Mitchell. It’s digestible pop with an edge that a lot of mainstream music is scared to express.
The instrumentation is pleasing but predictable, while the chord progressions, melodic ideas and lack of rhythmic integrity are frustrating at times. The album embraces a pop-folk style, a decision that is rewarding if you enjoy her sound, but to me, it occasionally felt redundant. One of the songs that caught my attention was Alberta, the fourth track on the album and probably my favourite. Songs about often-traveled locations can easily end up sounding selfishly sentimental or indulgent, but Kylie managed to avoid this through sincere and patient lyricism. The guitar riff was initially repetitive, but ended up getting stuck in my head and I found myself singing it a few days later.
The first two tracks of the album, Montreal and Skydiver, have their moments, but I prefer Skydiver for its clever analogies and the wonderful fills and counter-melody of the violin (played by Nienke Izurieta). The vocals in the song Montreal feel slightly rushed, so it took a few listens to connect to the melody. The lyrics in Montreal are self-aware and self-deprecating: “People call me a bum on the street, I guess that’s accurate/ – I’m a regurgitated piece of shit, that’s ok, I’m used to it.” These, coupled with the sing-songy melody, grab your attention with the contrast of emotions. Things with Sam, the last track on the album, is just Kylie and her guitar. The song rushes and drags at random, but is propelled by an upbeat melody and engaging words: “To salvage all the time I had, I melted in his couch, to pass the pipe and binge watch Planet Earth.”
Kylie’s debut EP has many interesting moments and is a great addition to her career. I enjoyed her imaginative storytelling and hope to hear more from her. The solo songs on the album were more powerful to me than when she was with a band. Changing up her instrumentation would help her songs evolve and create a gateway to exploring new genres. The overall themes of the album have a youthful quality reminiscent of 90s’ grunge, but infused with Kylie’s own mood. Mixed by Corey Bonnevie, Balcony features Geoffry Smith on drums, Chuck Teed on Bass, Nienke Izurieta on violin and Jamie Comeau on lead guitar. The EP is available on Bandcamp.