Appearances, as we all know, can be deceptive. A quick glance at the pouting longhair glaring pensively out from the above cover-shot might reasonably lead one to assume the music contained within to be the work of some mopey hipster indie band, but right down to the title of his fantastic debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind, it’s pretty clear Kindness – British producer Adam Bainbridge to his parents – is pretty keen on challenging preconceptions. Why else would anyone choose to cover a track by alt-rock royalty the Replacements (“Swinging Party”) as an opiated slow-motion Chicago house jam, or risk the ballsy move of turning former EastEnders actress (and Mrs. Brian May) Anita Dobson’s version of the long-running soap opera’s theme tune, “Anyone Can Fall In Love”, into a beautiful soft-focus soul ballad? The significance (or is it irony?) of the latter will doubtless be lost on non-Brits, but for half-Indian Bainbridge – who recorded the album with African, European and American musicians and French/ Italian producer Philippe Zdar (Cassius, Phoenix, the Rapture) – the idea of messing with context and preconceptions seems to come naturally, and it’s this outside-the-box thinking that makes World so special. Despite being tied loosely together by a late ‘70s/ early ‘80s avant-disco vibe (think Talking Heads or Grace Jones’ Compass Point recordings), it’s genuinely impossible to predict from track to track which direction the album will head in next; the journey from the laid-back deep house grooves of opener “SEOD” to the frantic jazz-funk swing of closer “Doigsong” includes detours into spaced-out dub ambience (“Gee Wiz”), muscular Jam & Lewis-style electro-R&B (“It’s Alright”) and tear-jerking synth-pop “House”, complete with noodling guitar solos, sax breaks and female backing vocals, and is anything but linear. For a debut, World is impressively assured, uniting dance and rock music as artfully as any record since Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, and whilst his magpie tendencies establish something of a Kindness “persona”, they also help to keep Bainbridge shrouded in a certain amount of mystery. It’s an important detail, and one that is alluded to – in a roundabout way – by the artist himself: on “Bombastic”, a Vocodered voice reels off a long list of Bainbridge’s supposed influences, among them John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Kate Bush, Randy Newman and Neil Young. Fittingly, World sounds nothing like any of them; but on the basis of this quietly remarkable album, Bainbridge’s dream of being talked about in the same breath as such visionary talents is far from unrealistic.
World, You Need A Change Of Mind is out March 19 in the UK on Female Energy/ Polydor, and May 8 in the US on Terrible Records