The Kairos are back, and with the release of their new single – Round The Bend, they are ready to make up for lost time. My last sighting of the Liverpool quartet was in February of 2020 at the Invisible Wind Factory. They were the main support for RATS during an exhilarating night of Scouse indie rock that also featured current NME 100 pick STONE. A couple of weeks later, band members Tom Dempsey (guitar and vocals) and Lewis Chambers (guitar) were involved in a knife attack which left the pair in hospital. Both have made a full recovery, I’m glad to report, but that event coupled with Covid has meant that the band have had an extended hiatus. Thankfully for the band, you and me, with the release of Round The Bend, that break is over.
With their previous singles Money Mind and Teetotal The Kairos have established a reputation as a band capable of producing a vibrant, scuzzy wall of sound, songs built on catchy riffs, with intense, at times vitriolic lyrics (Money Mind in particular is a scathing attack on the gold-digger mentality). I’m happy to report that the long lay off has not dulled The Kairos sensibilities in any way, shape or form. The Kairos have never hidden their influences, Oasis vocal delivery, and Arctic Monkeys lyricism have always been in evidence, and Round The Bend sees the band successfully straying into Kasabian like territory. It’s less about the melodies and harmonies and more about the big riff and big beat.
Round The Bend begins with Sam Bradley anxiously tapping out an impatient 4/4 beat on his drumsticks, and an insanely catchy, percussive, almost funky guitar riff which forms the backbone of the song. Dempsey’s hushed, conspiratorial vocals enter ‘Hang your head in shame, leave it out and found who is to blame’. There’s an instant edgy, anxious feel to the song. It’s the worry of youth facing an uncertain tomorrow as highlighted in the lyrics of the chorus where Dempsey earnestly declares ‘I’ve got all my problems, I’ve barely lived a life’. The fact that the song rarely veers from it’s initial 4/4 pace and rhythm only adds to the claustrophobic feel of the song.
From what I’ve written thus far you may have built the impression that Round The Bend is a cautionary tale of an uncertain future. That’s not the case. There is a real positivity in this song. It’s not the future that is coming round the bend to get you, it’s you that’s marching round that bend, and you’re ready to face whatever comes your way. Take inspiration from Dempsey as he tells you to ‘carry on and please don’t be afraid’, ‘Cos were coming round the bend’.
Singer Tom Dempsey has declared this song to be a ‘coming of age song’. That it may be. But Round The Bend tackles the issue from a different angle to most. A great many bands I have been listening to recently have been telling me how beautiful life can be, or to make sure I take time to love myself. Now while I fully support those sentiments, sometimes in life there comes a time for a bit of angsty, urgency. With Round The Bend, The Kairos deliver that by the shovelful. They haven’t got time to stop and smell the roses, they know what they want and they know had to get it. Get on board, or get left behind.
Round The Bend was recorded at Motor Museum Studios in lovely Lark Lane, Liverpool and produced by Loic Gaillard (Stealing Sheep, Zuzu, Larkins). It’s released on your usual platforms on Friday 14.1.2022. You know what to do.