Minks: X-Rated Poetry - Just in case you didn’t get your fill of Sean Kilfoyle as Minks in his newest LP Tides End (or didn’t like what you heard there), you’re in luck: he released a compilation cassette you didn’t even know about neatly packed on two spools of magnetic tape. Minks X-Rated Poetry is a gem to be recovered unscathed and unleashed from the terrible shadow of Tides End, where it is currently hiding, on cassette. While some are calling it a compilation, as it revisits old singles ‘Araby’, ‘Little Fawn’, and ‘Drunk Punks’, I call this his magnum opus ironically masked by a trendy piece of retro plastic more fitting for the 1980s-pop inspired sounds of Tides End.
There’s a lot packed into this 8-track, 20-minute-long compilation. Although not an official album release, I found it to be the more thought provoking and progressive release of the two. I love that this album is a re-release of older songs mixed with new ones, showcasing some of Kilfoyle’s best songwriting and singing. X-Rated Poetry is characterized by drifting melodies which waft seamlessly in and out of layers of distortion. The ambiance of this album is dream-like, still, and precious, even in the speedier tracks because of it’s brilliant layering of sound.
Although Kilfoyle revisits past singles on X-Rated Poetry, it is full of new sound. It opens up with ‘Dead Believer Dog’, a lo-fi instrumental build up of echoed strumming that sets the tone for the rest of the new songs on the album. The repetitive chord progression subtly moves up towards a climax as the breathy sounds of his guitar build on top of each other into a dust cloud of distortion before it all abruptly stops. Unlike much of what you hear on Tides End, ‘Dead Believer Dog,’ is rooted in the undefinable, loose structure that seems to work much better for him.
‘Plastic Seas’ is another new one and perhaps my favorite song on the album. It has a Hawaii-aloha melody in the beginning that makes it feel very beachy, yet Kilfoyle’s voice steals the limelight once introduced. Airy, contorted and echoed, his sound is effortless. With lyrics like /there’s no strawberry fields in heaven/ it has that lo-fi dreamlike quality that I was looking for.
Why ‘Little Fawns’ didn’t make it onto an album until X-Rated Poetry is a mystery to me. It’s sweet and catchy, fiddling with the buttons in the producer studio as Kilfoyle’s voice moves in merry-go-round circles from stereo A to stereo B. It kind of reminds me of Fleet Foxes on synth steroids. Similarly, ‘Tropic Meridian’ is another smooth, light, catchy song on the release that doesn’t overdo the synth and is nicely blended. These songs have what the songs of Tides End were missing, which was good layering and blending of sound and distortion.
Perhaps the new release is comprised of tunes that somebody suggested Kilfoyle leave out of the last one in true “kill your darlings” style, because there definitely is not a place on Tides End for these cracked, down-tempo, simply distorted songs. But, of the two albums, these speckled, strange darlings are by far superior to everything on Tides End. X-Rated Poetry is more natural, more sensitive and didn’t leave me with a tinge of disgust due to the lack of personal artistic growth I felt was absent in his official album release. Tides End was an electro-pop album that had little to no depth and completely sold Minks’s talent short, comparatively. I understand the desire as an artist to want to completely change it up and push boundaries, but if that means that songs like ‘Plastic Sea’ and ‘Little Fawn’ are going to pushed aside in order to emulate a sound that just isn’t natural, then I just hope Minks continues to secretly throw his darlings our way. This is the album I wanted to hear all along… 7.0/10