Kitchens of Distinction formed as a band in 1986 releasing just four studio albums, as well as a few singles and EPs on the One Little Indian label, before disbanding in 1996.
Lead vocalist Patrick Fitzgerald explains the gestation of their first album in 19 years, “Folly”:
“These songs came together over a two-year period which began in June 2011 and finished during April 2013. As with all songs by Kitchens of Distinction, new and old, they began with the musical structure first, the tune and lyrics coming later. With these songs I wrote the initial music, with KOD guitarist Julian Swales shaping them, suggesting tempo changes, structure changes, and providing the trademark sonic embellishments of his galactic guitar cascades. Dan Goodwin, original KOD drummer, added percussion and rhythm programming support. They were recorded in my studio in Derbyshire and at Julian’s studio in Brighton. The songs were mixed with Pascal Gabriel in April 2013 when I was recovering from a nephrectomy and winter would not leave us.”
The opening track is “Oak Tree” and tells the story of the life of a relationship, from beginning, through ill health and the decision of the healthy partner not to leave his man alone and then finally the ill man’s death and the scattering of his ashes beneath an old apple tree. It’s a moving introduction to the album. Swales’ layers of soaring guitars build through the track with Fitzgerald’s plaintive vocals over them. In the 90’s record company execs told Fitzgerald not to write “gay lyrics” for fear of him being marginalized – it didn’t stop him then and it’s not stopping him now!
Italian heiress Luisa Casati and her ‘extravagances’, (which included walking pair of leashed cheetahs and wearing live snakes as jewellery) her final demise and death make up the theme of then next track “Extravagance”. It’s a great story that I’d not heard before I listened to this track. Guitars add to the story’s drama and again Fitzgerald’s vocal fits the story beautifully.
Track three is “Disappeared” lyric is the story of a lover demanding to know where an absent partner went the night they ‘disappeared’. There’s a line in there “Did you lift up your skirt to flirt with Pan” which is just brilliant to my mind. Again Fitzgerald’s vocal juxtaposed with Swales’ guitar just adds to the drama of the piece.
“Photographing Rain” is up next and is essentially a piano track but with over 50 layers of guitar and great splashes of cymbals and drums provided by Patrick Hannan of The Sundays. It’s again a moving story of discrimination and the fight for equality in a world where the men and their threats come in the night. The song finishes with the image of two men hung dead from a crane, executed for the crime of loving each other. Again it’s gloriously moving both lyrically and musically!
You get the idea I’m sure. This album is as far away from the throwaway bubble gum pop which seems to be all pervading at the moment, yet it remains accessible… but complex both lyrically and musically. It’s a beautifully crafted, exquisite record with every word seeming to be painstakingly chosen for its significance and with guitars layered to form a swirling background to Fitzgerald’s vocal. It’s at times sad, moving and thought provoking, yet at others uplifting and celebratory (such as in Japan to Jupiter).
If you were a fan back in the day then you’ll love this record, if you don’t know KOD then it’s time you introduced them to your music collection – it’s out at the end of September. When you do buy this you’ll be well aware of where a good number of current flavour of the month bands originate their sound. There are ten tracks on Folly and not one of them could be described as filler in any way and it’s a record I’m sure will do well with those who long for music with meaning. Glorious!!!