KDH cram at least a hundred-thousand connections – musical, geographical, psychological – together into one single, throbbing, electric orb of blast-forward, boogie-down reduction rock on the thirty minutes that make up their somewhat-scarily flawless debut album, “Kill Devil Hills.”
We won’t attempt to untangle all of those connections. We’ll just continue to delight in them.
Given the band’s chemical composition – a group of North Carolina natives who came together in New York City – there’s a certain psychological symmetry to the music that they term “boogie doom.” And in those few facts, you have a distillation of the hundred-thousand connections mentioned above.
In much the same way, album opener “White Snow” serves as a incomplete, if deadly distillation of the KDH boogie-down aesthetic – a dynamic riff-rocket of streamlined, southern sincerity, exploding into comic-book color. And we say incomplete only with the knowledge of what follows after the instrumental opener: the KDH secret weapon of hook-heavy, harmony vocals.
And so it goes throughout the album, a collection of two-and-a-half and three-minute stunners, as compact as they are colossal, encouraging you to come along and sing along, too. It’s fun and it’s fierce, as carefree as drinking cheap beer in the back seat of a tricked-out muscle car. But by the time we arrive at the album’s midpoint – the extraordinarily appropriately named “Barnburner,” a rock and roll Frankenstein’s monster assembled in a laboratory co-owned by Diamond Head and The Flying Burrito Brothers – we realize there’s more to “Kill Devil Hills” than just a boozy, moonlight drive to the dunes. This rumbling ride is a custom-designed, high-performance vehicle, assembled with care and pride.
“What is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery. The flight of the buzzard and similar sailors is a convincing demonstration of the value of skill and the partial needlessness of motors. It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. This I conceive to be fortunate, for man, by reason of his greater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge than to equal nature in the perfection of her machinery.” – Wilbur Wright