Kristin Kontrol, “X-Communicate”

Kristin KontrolKristin_Kontrol-2016-X-Communicate
X-Communicate
SUB POP
6/10

Sometimes, bandleaders go solo for selfish, unadvisable reasons. They feel they’ve gotten bigger and better than the band that made them famous. Subsequently, sometimes they find they can’t actually go it alone, and maybe the band was an integral part of their success.

Sometimes, though, they’re Kristin Welchez—a.k.a. Dee Dee, frontwoman of much-loved garage-rock group Dum Dum Girls—and they’ve got something in them that needs to come out. Enter Kristin Kontrol and her debut synth-pop album, X-Communicate.

In the album’s opener, “Show Me,” Welchez sings, “Show me what you’re capable of” and “show me what you’re made of.” It seems like she’s addressing a lover or a friend, but it also feels like she’s challenging herself by kicking off her solo venture with those words.

Welchez has said rock is what made her want to make music, but that ’80s and ’90s pop is her music—the first she claimed as her own. X-Communicate combines these seamlessly, but it sits more in the latter category than the former, which Welchez explored thoroughly with Dum Dum Girls.

X-Communicate is reminiscent of Robyn’s 2010 Body Talk albums, and not just because of the often uncanny vocal similarities. Both projects are packed full of dreamy dance-pop that’s far from shallow. Much of the lyrical subject matter here is quite personal, in the vein of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own.” Welchez’s voice alone could carry X-Communicate, but she also offers up backwards guitar solos, saxophone lines, and grooves to last all night.

All that said, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of this album. Take a look at her new stage name. The album is exactly as she wants it to be: super tight, super polished, and nothing at all like Dum Dum Girls. Lucky for us, it’s also a worthwhile, enjoyable listen.

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