Kezia is a rock quintet from Brescia, Italy. The lineup is made up of lifelong friends which decided to get back playing together after being separated by years of musical experiences in several different projects. The core of Kezia comes from the ashes of a previous project, Bomba Effervescente.
The Dirty Affair, released in May, is then the guys’ debut album, published under Logic(il)Logic.
The band describes their soundscape as “Prop”, a pun between prog and pop music. In fact, the album is quite catchy and overall extremely melodic, with some dancey soundscapes provided by the keyboards and lots of possible singalong moments as something labelled “pop” could imply, but it also carries some appreciable “proggy” developments.
I casually got to (virtually) know part of the guys while they were still playing under the moniker Bomba Effervescente, at the time when I was attending a well know Italian music forum. That was a handful of years ago, around 2010 probably.
I remember having had a brief online chat with them and linking them to Fishbone and to the then-timed works of the Italians Destrage in my mind, not much in terms of sound really rather than for matters of “imagination”in the music.
Now we’re here, again by chance. Life works in mysterious ways haha.
Even if part of the tracks should be the same from that time, nowadays I’d have completely different associations in mind but well, we all grow up!
The band itself says to be very much influenced by Queen, fact on which I prefer not to spend an opinion since I sadly never got to know the band enough in depth, apart from the classic most popular hits, but well there you have a reference.
Some songs lie at the simpler, more straightforward and ballad-like end of the spectrum, even if all with enjoyable arrangements, such as The Dirty Affair (Between Pelican and Bear) which even brings an ‘80s feel with its “out of control” guitar whammy bar work, Sneakers, or Treesome with its metal-ish harsh vocals outro.
Other tracks have in my opinion a “proggier” flavor with a bit more variety, even if still pertaining to a very appealing “pop” context, such as the opener Before I Leave with its subtle little changes and a momentarily odd-time feel, Ebola with its funny and unexpected Louis Armstrong-styled vocals on top of swingy passages, or Barabba’s Son Song with its overall “happy feel”.
The track Quendo screams Dream Theater all over the place and is in my opinion the least original of the bunch. It’s an overall more metal-ish, higher energy track with dirty vocals in places. The second half of the song “feels more Kezia”, according to me.
I took some time to form an opinion on this work and I still surely have mixed feelings.
Some tracks feel more of a selection of ideas more than “prog” arrangements.
I mean, I don’t feel taken on a journey from point A to point B more than in a gallery on bits and pieces at times. The second half of the work has a better flow to my ears.
Some songs, as for example Ebola feel a little “weak” to me, they could benefit from fuller instrumentals and sometimes the vocal presence feels critical to hold everything together. There are also unnecessary showoffs in places, as for instance the high pitched scream at the end of the above mentioned track doesn’t add any actual value to the song. If considering that, I would maybe have enjoyed some more equal space to the virtuosity of the other players.
I also didn’t feel that much enthusiasm coming from the recorded performance, maybe also due to the mixing on which I’ll come back later.
The vocals are good in technique (I sense an influence from Protest The Hero’s Rody Walker. Well the band’s name says something too doesn’t it?) but they can feel cheesy or monotonous in the long run and I would have appreciated a little more variety in phrasing and applied techniques, such as more variance from clean to dirty to “crooned”, the momentary changes we can already hear on the album.
Also the English pronunciation could have been way better, I actually understood just a couple of full sentences in the whole album, and I can really say I listened to it a lot of times.
Having read around that the guys have very ironic lyrics, I feel that not being able to appreciate them in an open way is a loss in value a fortiori.
Some general advice from my humble opinion: the production feels inconsistent to my ears and could be bettered off too.
It’s overall more than acceptable but the drums feel artificial in places and the guitar tones are very bad.
The mixing also lack dynamics according to me, a fact which doesn’t help sustaining the music at all.
Everything feels quite “flat and stale” throughout the whole work and that doesn’t feel much stimulating to the ears, also given that the album is not a super easy listening one and needs way more than a couple of spins to sink in.
For instance I’m not able to say “here comes the chorus” as opposed to a verse section for example, because the changes both in the arrangement and in the mixing are so little if not non-existent.
And I don’t mean that for a reason of possible song destructuring but actually regarding the mixing per se. I mean I don’t feel “in the moment” as a listener, I don’t feel engaged.
Then again, all of the above is just my personal opinion.
Another thing I can’t really figure out is why the guys are pushing their image and their album so much out there, a bit of a personal rant here.
I mean, it’s perfectly ok to be under a label and a promo agency at any time, and it’s perfectly ok to treat your album as an actual “product” when you’re at a certain “dimension”, business-wise.
Being at this amateur level however, wouldn’t it be more rightful to let the music do the talking and work for the long term, instead of having everybody out there talking about you and your album in the here and now? I mean, ok do it, but then what? You’re still there. Come on.
It’s just the debut album of a local band, no need to act so big in my opinion. Better just work your asses off and let life take care of the rest. Quality will speak for itself.
In addition, I feel the market is way more big and saturated than what they think it to be, and basing on their actual reachability (a thing that also clashes with the above mentioned observations) I would revise my attitude and policies if I were them. It’s 2015 after all.
I’ll stop now, I think I spoke a lot already, end of the rant.
Closing up, I can’t say it blew my mind but I have come to appreciate this work by the guys in Kezia.
After more than 10 years of them playing in various projects, I was expecting something crazier from their experience but hey, those were just my expectations and this is just their music after all. It’s their art and their choices.
Hope they keep the imaginative work up as I found some parts very fresh, good luck for the next work!
- Before I Leave
- The Dirty Affair (Between Pelican and Bear)
- Barabba’s Son Song