Let’s just be honest straight out of the gates, this is an amazing record. Intimate and hypnotic, Kate Stables has not only mined for gold, but has found her fortune. Off Off On is the fourth record she has recorded under the This is the Kit monicker, and will be joining the others as an album I’ll return to on a regular basis.
The first two tracks ‘Found Out’ and ‘Started Again’ are great beginning points for anyone who hasn’t listened to them before, but it’s on the third track ‘This is What You Did’ where the wheels leave the ground for good and we soar towards greatness. A circular mantra about the internal self, the song reverberates around the chorus ‘This is what they want, this is what you did, this is what they said, why are you still here?”. A bruising indie rock song that address anxiety right in the eye. Stables has called it a “panic attack song” and it’s a perfect description. Stables doesn’t look back from there.
The album is produced by sometime Hold Steady collaborator Josh Kaufman, the album also features subtle saxophone from Lorenzo Prati, no more so than on ‘Slider’, a song about a friend dying in hospital, “making time, losing time, to be hold, and be held”. The album also features the brilliant call-to-arms of ‘Was Magician’, a song so prescient for these times but actually based on the novels of Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s a song of independence, equality and a woman reaching full strength despite the barriers of the world.
She puts the time she spent with the National on their album I Am Easy to Find as being pivotal in the development of her songwriting. It really shows in tracks like ‘Coming to Get You Nowhere’, with it’s “energy, energy please” mantra and echoes of Stereolab. It’s a beautiful and bruising album, full of welcome surprises and left turns. She makes the mundane sound magical and the magical seem steeped in reality. Off Off On feels so needed in times like these. As the final song so eloquently puts it, “you’ve got to keep going”.