Album Review: Kuinka's 'Landlines'

The band will play at the Idaho Botanical Gardens on July 18


  • Adam Brown

Kuinka (coo-wink-ka) was my favorite discovery of Treefort 2018. It was the middle of the day, I was tired after two days of the festival, but the band caught my attention enough that I stopped. It was a short set, but I was hooked. If you need a similar experience, watch its NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

The band, which will play the Great Garden Escape series at Idaho Botanical Gardens on Thursday, July 18, just released its latest album, Landlines, this year—its first since the Stay Up Late EP in 2017. Comparatively, the newer release feels tamer. The first track, "Homesick," drags open with a slow string serenade before giving way to a synth pop beat that feels more upbeat than I expected.

Despite the softer beginning, Kuinka does a great job pivoting to "Californium," a full-on stomp-and-holler track. A more robust instrumental assortment—more synthesizer and electronics rather than just pure acoustics—combine perfectly with the soulfully hazy vocals of Miranda Zickler.

The last tracks on the album are some of the best. Breakup songs are a dime a dozen, but "Wet Cement" gives a refreshing electrofunk take on it. It took several listens to even realize there were sad undertones. This is key for all of Kuinka’s music: A joyous vibe always pushes through.

"Taking Love closes" out the record in the best way—a quartet of hollering voices, blended with a fluid, synthetic vibrato bass line and plenty of heavy percussion.

Landlines is just enough to tide over Kuinka fans for a while—it’s satisfying, until you realize it’s all gone. Then you just want more.


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