Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – Superscope (Sunday Best)


Listening to the fourth, and latest release, from the North London raised Durham siblings I was pleasantly surprised to find that growing up has not faded their hunger for old-time rock and roll.  Like their earlier albums, Superscope is jam-packed with plenty of swinging rockabilly, grungy blues and sultry soul music.  Sadly, ska has been omitted from the menu this time.

Anyone who saw their NZ tour about 3 years ago will be familiar with these three multi-instrumentalists, their loose, casual approach to playing and the way they’ve perfected their own retro sound by using vintage analogue equipment.  On tour the kids are joined by mom and dad.  Both have their own musical back stories: Mom (Ingrid Weiss) was once a drummer in The Raincoats; and Dad (Graeme Durham) is a master of jazz guitar.  Growing up there was no escaping their destiny.

Over time they’ve recruited producers to help them out but for 2017’s Superscope, they taken over the production chores themselves. I can’t say that change made a huge difference to the end product because the trio’s records never have never really been very slick or over-produced in the past.  They’ve always favoured a home-cooked feel.  So Superscope isn’t much of a stretch.

As the formula goes, and remains, swapping lead vocal duties between each band member/sibling allows every song to appear fresh and inviting.  There’s some very tight rhythms on the deep and smoky opening track You’re So Fine which sets the mood and tempo for this 10-song set.  The first single, Down On My Knees says it all, I reckon.  It’s a little bit raunchy, a bit playful and dripping in wah-pedal magic.  The good time vibe continues with the plucky number The Game Is On, which could well be a button-down imitation of a song from all female English group Thee Headcoatees, perhaps fronted by Imelda May.

I love the twang on Team Strong and I’m reminded of Otis Redding on Love Me So, which is crooned so delicately by Lewis.  On the other hand, you get the Shadows coming out on with some very slick surf-funk on Black Van and even more from Booker T-influenced Broccoli Tempura, the closing instrumental piece.

The only disappointing song is Slave, which really does need a decent brass section behind it.  It wants to be a big bold soul number but seems a little weak without that Memphis Horns muscle and some decent back-up singers.  Even on vintage equipment, the sound could be mastered.  Here’s hoping they find an opportunity to record it live with a bigger orchestra one day.

I’ve read that some reviewers were a little underwhelmed by this release.  The lack of ska tracks in the selection is noticeable.  It could be argued that it takes away some of the wackiness in their set, that it was essential to keep everything from getting too serious.  This time around they are more mature, but no surprise, these kids are now all in their early 20’s and probably wanting to avoid becoming modern day versions of Mansun or the Partridge Family, anyway.  I think Superscope really is an addictive album, a good choice for your next retro party or Dirty Dancing session.

Tim Gruar