Ahead of their debut album release later this year, Southampton sextet Kids Can’t Fly have released their third EP, Northern Horizons. Despite their previous efforts which saw them showcase a unique brand of ‘ska punk’ (the traditional guitars have been complimented with a saxophone and trumpet), Northern Horizons sees them try their hand at a harder, heavier approach to their sound – and with successful results. Opening track ‘Esmerelda’ is a future rock anthem that sounds more like Funeral for a Friend than anything else, combining guitars, brass melodies, breakdowns AND gang vocals in the space of three minutes and using all to very good effect. In fact, all four songs on the record use similar formulae with aplomb; from the catchy chorus that holds ‘Stick to Your Guns’ together, through ‘Happily Never After’ – containing superb lyrics like I guess this ‘happy ever after’ never happened in the end and tugging on heartstrings from the bottom of your wishing well – and rounding off with the stomp-tastic ‘No Matter What’. Singling out a particular member is very tricky – they are all exceptionally talented – but frontman Robin Black just edges it for having the advantage of a top notch voice that is suited very well to the style of music.
And yet, there is a sense Kids Can’t Fly have hit a slight pitfall. On each track the saxophone and trumpet have their moment in the spotlight before the guitars and vocals take over once more, and it becomes difficult to make them out for the remainder of the song. Perhaps this was their intention, but in a world where it takes something very special to stand out in an overcrowded music scene, one cannot help but think that they have sacrificed a slice of their distinctive sound in order to appeal to a wider audience, thus running the risk of fading into the crowd.
Nevertheless, Northern Horizons is a very solid effort with an abundance of promise, for fans of everyone from Good Charlotte to the aforementioned Funeral for a Friend, and perfectly paves the way for a full-length release. 7/10
2) Stick To Your Guns
3) Happily Never After
4) No Matter What