They're not stylistic twins by any means, but there's plenty for Florence + the Machine fans to love in up-and-comers Kye Kye.
What's the column about? I'm trying to show that for every popular, chart topping band or singer out there, there's at last one comparable (or even better) Christian musical option. Music is such a large part of our lives, and it's my pleasure to show you the amazing offerings Christian music has to offer. The industry's come a long way.
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE & KYE KYE
Haunting, gentle-yet-piercing vocals soar over vigorous and chaotic backing instrumentals. Take the best of rock, soul, ambient and experimental music, throw in a few pieces of Jefferson Airplane and Joss Stone, and you have the entrancing enigma that is Florence + the Machine.
Although popular in the UK for several years, the band ostensibly burst onto the American scene about a year ago as lead singer Florence Welch and Co. garnered scores of new fans by appearing on the MTV Video Music Awards, the Today Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, among other gigs.
Spin Magazine’s 2010 artist of the year sold more than 2.2 million copies of their first album, 2009’s Lungs. Songs like “Kiss With a Fist”, “Heavy in Your Arms” and “Dog Days Are Over” captivated audiences with a style described by Rolling Stone as “dark, robust and romantic.”
Now, with a growing following, a brand new Billboard chart-topping album—Ceremonials—and a forthcoming world tour, Florence + the Machine is poised to continue their rise in popularity.
Though the instrumentals and vocals are beautiful and hypnotic, the lyrics and general themes of the band are indeed dark…and disturbing.
Adam Holz of Plugged In states: “Florence and her Machine are fascinated with some pretty dark stuff. Death. Demons. Damnation. Her two deeply poetic songs detailing the ‘beautiful’ release of suicide by way of drowning are among the more problematically suggestive I’ve encountered in a long time.”
Most tragic about the band is that these terrible themes are accompanied by such beautiful and compelling music. But sometimes the darkest things come cloaked in light.
Fortunately, Christian music has an answer. Just as Florence + the Machine is a one-of-a-kind mainstream band, Kye Kye of Camas, Wash. is a fast-rising, one-of-a-kind outfit that proclaims a pursuit of Jesus.
Although stylistically the bands are hardly a match, there are some very obvious comparisons, though: Both bands are fronted by women with very transfixing, very gripping vocals. Both bands employ the best of several genres in their instrumentation. Both bands will force you to take notice.
Musically, Kye Kye is less soul-infused, and more electronica-inspired. Kye Kye singer Olga Yagolnikov has more peaceful vocal inflections than Welch. And the band seems to approach its music from the opposite angle of the Machine.
“…we’ve spent less time actually trying to write songs,” Kye Kye’s Tim Yagolnikov told RELEVANT Magazine. “Instead, we’ve spent more time with God and getting to know who He is, and what that relationship looks like. I think that’s poured itself out into the music.”
Indeed it has, as the heavenly sound carries positive themes such as God-given dreams, redemption, acceptance, grace and purpose.
Some highlights from the band’s critically acclaimed debut album, Young Love, include the rhythmic and dreamy “My Sight”—perhaps the most “Machine-like” track on the album, the Sixpence-meets-trance style of “Broke,” the echoing and declarative “Reach,” and the soothing “Sleeper.” Be sure to check out their remake of U2’s “With or Without You.”
Just as Florence + the Machine does for mainstream listeners, Kye Kye provides music-lovers with otherworldly sounds that go beyond the typical Top 40 fare—but without the darkness.
NRT Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock has been a newspaper reporter, an editor and now Communications Director for East Hill Church in Gresham, OR. He's also been involved in opera, acappella, an Avalon-style group and now is a songwriter and one of the worship leaders at East Hill. Follow his journey at www.mheternal.com.
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