If you’re a fan of nineties indie rock who has either heard or read about Kiwi Jr., then you’re probably already aware how uncanny the voice of the band’s vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist, Jeremy Gaudet, resembles that of Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus. Football Money, the first full-length from the Toronto quartet, offers ten guitar-driven indie rock tracks that range everywhere from upbeat, jokey shout-alongs to mid-tempo, thoughtful ponderings chock-full of colorful non sequiturs.
“Murder in the Cathedral” starts things off right with a bouncy chord progression that takes us up and down the scale, periodically starting and stopping, as Gaudet sings about things as disparate as James Dean and getting stabbed in a church, all while a frenetic harmonica is blown and a chorus echoes Gaudet’s chorus of, “Come down, Daniel.” The fun call and response track, “Leslie”, follows and provides clever twists and turns, a charming guitar solo, and pleasant lead interstitials between the changes. The initial trio is concluded with “Salary Man”, a song wherein Gaudet reminisces sarcastically about the joys of splitting one’s time between a band and an office job. Things take a turn here as you may be hard-pressed to find the patience to push through the moronically repetitive “Gimme More”. Regardless, the majority of the first handful of songs are particularly decent and do a good job of demonstrating Kiwi Jr.’s strengths. Still, after reaching the sweet and gentle centerpiece, “Comeback Baby”, there are few bright moments to be found in Football Money’s final five.
The minute-long, reverb-heavy “Soft Water Apple” sounds like a slowed-down outtake from “Salary Man” and serves as a sort of ear reset just prior to the LP’s title track. Unfortunately, the cheery handclaps do little to induce interest in this comparatively short, middling number which is padded out with a solo that dissolves into feedback. Weirdly, “Nothing Changes” finds Gaudet complaining about the same style music Kiwi Jr. plies their trade in, singing, “This boy knows I hate his band, and everyone looks like a lumberjack, guitars, more guitars,” before launching into a chorus that echoes the song’s title. Football Money’s penultimate track, “Swimming Pool”, is twisted in that its happy tone is offset by its dark chorus of, “Brian Jones, Brian Jones,” who, by the way, died by drowning in a swimming pool. The record’s largely problematic second side is concluded, and slightly redeemed, with “Wicked Witches”, a fine ender that finds a snazzy synth effect added onto the lead guitar and a steady handclap pulling the record to a screeching, distorted finale.
Football Money is frontloaded with sometimes excellent material that pales when compared to the record’s tedious second side. Had the better songs been more evenly distributed, it would have made for a more enjoyable listening experience. Instead, what Kiwi Jr. has delivered is a debut that wears out its welcome by burning through the group’s best tricks too early in the journey.