Looking like a cross between Bryan Ferry and Gene Simmons, and sounding like Bono without the uncomfortable preaching, Andy Kim’s latest, It’s Decided, rings with a beautifully pained nostalgia.
The opening track, “Sister OK,” is honest in its melancholy, informing that “love will not raise you up” — a far cry from Kim’s billboard topping saccharine lyrics in “Sugar, Sugar” (from his former days working with The Archies).
Kim sticks with honest and melancholic themes for many of the tracks, and constantly asks rhetorical questions that wonder at the inexplicability of life. “Why Can’t I” sees Kim looking back at the many wrong paths he’s followed in life, while “It’s Emotional” is, well, emotional.
Kim worked alongside fellow Canadian Kevin Drew, of Broken Social Scene, whose influence can be felt throughout the album. This can be heard particularly on tracks such as “Heaven Without a Gun” and at the end of “Who Came First,” the album’s closing track. Here, Broken Social Scene’s influence can be heard as the song fades away slowly, with a repeated vocal that sounds like it was recorded in a not-too-distant location (reminiscent of Kevin Drew’s vocals on the BSS track “Almost Crimes”).
Opting for a Canadiana vibe, Kim employed the help of other noteworthy Canadian musicians Dave Hamelin of The Stills, Kevin Hearne of Barenaked Ladies, and Ron Sexsmith.
Kim’s lyrics pose some heavy questions, but when the album isn’t lamenting the past, it has some upbeat moments that just might get you moving — providing you temporarily ignore the words.
The clap-happy “Sail On” and the previously mentioned “Who Came First” are the album’s most upbeat peaks. The music seems to transcend genres, a mix between jazz, electronic, and pop. Kim may not stick to one genre of music, but thematically he hardly ever strays from his honest, deep-thinking, reflective tone.
Listening to It’s Decided is unlikely to be a reassuring experience, but if you’re looking to question the meaning of life, you could do a lot worse than lines like “who came first: night or the day?”