To name a song “Midnight Lover” is ambitious, and perhaps dangerous. A song with a title so classically charged with sex and romance had better deliver. Luckily, this track from Kisses' upcoming album Heart of the Nightlife (Surround Sound) possesses enough swoon-worthiness to compensate for its relative lack of lust. This duo is romantic, and has the disco credentials – love of Cerrone and Gino Soccio; tutelage under Alec R. Constandinos – to deliver the sleek seduction.
Vegans and vegetarians might not like a chorus come-on that hinges on the appeal of an invitation to a “nice steak dinner,” but Jesse Kivel's Jens Lekmanesque croon makes the sentiment hard to resist. (It's also timely, what with Tracey Thorn calling out Lekman by name on the first track of her new album and singing a duet with him later.) Of course, Lekman covered a song by the true tremulous source of the waves of indie-tinged electronic pop and electronic-tinged indie pop in recent years: namely, Arthur Russell. No one to date has matched Russell's emotional purity, but Kisses might be my favorite of his children-in-waiting because of the way Kivel manages to at least approximate the simple tenderness of Russell's lyricism. He zeroes in on the feeling of happiness that occurs when one realizes old friends aren't lost, or that an affair is on the horizon. In this case, perhaps a vacation resort sunset horizon rather than a hazy one on Russell's urban pier haunting and cruising grounds..
Kisses' first release “Bermuda” is a strong contender for my favorite song of spring-into-summer, and with this one, the twosome has got another in the running. Inspired in part by Kivel's past gig as a travel writer, the loneliness of a luxury vagabond life seems to be a theme of Kivel's and Zinzi Edmundson's album. I'm ready to dive into Heart of the Nightlife.