Arms of Kismet, Cutting Room Rug
Mark Doyon, the sole force behind Arms of Kismet, describes his new album, Cutting Room Rug, as a jigsaw puzzle. “Sometimes the puzzle falls off the table,” he says. “You can put it back together, or you can do something else with the pieces.” The pieces to Arms of Kismet’s newest release are interesting, to say the least.
The first listen through wasn’t anything special; the instrumentation felt dated. Every other song, I found myself wishing I were listening to the Talking Heads. Beneath the surface, though, there’s a unique style of songwriting that Doyon has made his own. Luckily, Cutting Room Rug doesn’t take that style too seriously. There’s a smile in the beat when Doyon asks, “Who’s to blame / For a world that runs on fission?” He wants to be taken “to your sweet soul goddess.” That playful songwriting keeps the momentum rolling on the album, and I feel like there’s a brooding quality to the record that gets lost. There’s a thin, thin layer of dark to the record, but it gets obscured in the playful mood. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Doyon’s vision is all over the place. Cutting Room Rug moves from a honky-tonk guitar riff (“Outbound train”) to a classic ballad (“Coil”) to a dance club-inspired groove (“Pinnacle of Same”). Inside the mishmash of the arrangements, Doyon’s voice helps pull the album together; he has a classic ’80s wail. His voice is so familiar, but it feels like it’s legitimately unique, even still. Unfortunately, while Doyon’s singing works well on certain tracks, I’m not sure it can manage to hold all 11 tracks together.
Beyond that, some of the puzzle pieces come off a bit too easy; they don’t feel like anything innovative. The dance beat on “Pinnacle of Same” feels like it was cut from the starter loops in GarageBand. The piano parts sound too thin sometimes, but Doyon mixes them well– especially on “Listen to You.”
Ultimately, it’s Doyon’s simple arrangements that keep the album solid. Cutting Room Rug is a strange example of new pop; it’s leaning toward the “acquired taste” pile. All in all, it’s a decent listen, but I’m afraid it’s not going on any of my playlists soon.