Grasping the judicious logic that minimalist pop singing is most safely showcased at minimal volume levels, Hoboken’s Kickstand plays it Sunday-morning gentle on Kickstand, a tonedeaf but actually delightful 23-track opus that includes nine songs from the prior (and incrementally punkier) cassettes and one from a Clean tribute EP. Skillfully weaving together hushed guitar strums (Jeff Feuerzeig, in real life a film director responsible for the excellent Half Japanese documentary, The Band That Would Be King), subliminal bass plunks (Tammi Colichio, who has designed artwork for records by many cool bands, including Codeine, the Breeders and Gumball) and brush-tapped drums (Torry Colichio, who, like her twin sister, doubles on one-finger Casio), the trio is hindered only by the Colichios’ key-bending vocals. The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks” proves surprisingly well-suited to a spare shimmerpop rendition (complete with lead guitar by Jad Fair here), but it’s hard to appreciate that insight between ear-tingling melody cringes; original numbers (and a cover of Young Marble Giants’ “Colossal Youth,” with organ by Caroline Azar of Fifth Column; ex-Flying Saucer Torry has drummed in Fifth Column as well) fare much better but still present a challenge to pitch-sensitive listeners. Meanwhile, on his occasional spotlights, Feuerzeig manages an impressively collected imitation of Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson. Strolling calmly through the forest of twee with a consistent sense of stylistic purpose and diverse arranging ideas, Kickstand is never cloyingly coy or precious; the group grips and pushes its delicate inventions with helpful confidence. Despite a bad habit of letting simple wisps of genuine songcraft drone on for three or four minutes, the delectable melodics of “How to Make a Girl Cry,” “Magic,” “Wish Upon a Star,” “Full Moon” and “Take the Highway” make such breath-holding pleasurable.
See also: Fifth Column