Cold Spring Fault Less Youth is London electronic duo Mount Kimbie’s first release for renowned British electronic-centric label Warp, after a string of EPs and an album on Hotflush Recordings, where they slotted in nicely amongst other dubstep and bass-related artists. The jump to Warp is an indication of how Mount Kimbie have shifted the focus of their sound for their second full length; whereas on 2010’s Crooks and Lovers, and the EPs that came out around it, most of the duo’s songs seemed built from the beat outwards, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth finds them spending more time on cultivating more varied and colourful textures first and foremost.
Although Kai Campos and Dominic Maker have stated that the album was entirely created on computer, you’d be easily forgiven for thinking several of the instruments played here were recorded live. On opening track “Home Recording,” the first sounds are of gently sweeping synths and horns, before a skittering beat comes in to hustle it along in a sleepy gait, allowing Campos’ vocals saunter in not long after. “Blood and Form” takes big blocks of sound and constructs a playful melody, propped up by a steady toy-drum beat while all sorts of freestyling keyboard sounds weave around on top. There are nods to Boards of Canada in “Break Well” and closing track “Fall Out,” not only in the dreamy, airy melodies that are used, but in the charmingly mathematical way they’re constructed. Madlib even springs to mind on “Lie Near,” which takes some blurred horns and drapes them across an uneasily cranking beat, creating a fog of brass.
When Mount Kimbie are making more beat-oriented tracks on this record, like “Slow” and “Sullen Ground,” the production is always creative without losing any of its sense of fun in the instrumentation. Quite unlike Crooks and Lovers, there’s only one track on Cold Spring Fault Less Youth you’d likely hear thrown into a dancefloor mix: the lead single “Made To Stray.” With its tantalising rattling beat and circling-the-drain like atmospherics, it’s the most immediate song here. It’s a shame that there aren’t more tracks like this, since making off-kilter floor-fillers is arguably what Mount Kimbie do best, and one more would not have been unwelcome in place of one of the weaker tracks like the pleasant but uninspiring instrumental jaunt “So Many Times, So Many Ways.”
Another major change from their earlier output is the increased use of vocals; the majority of tracks on this album feature some kind of lyricism. The ones provided by Mount Kimbie themselves are usually failry low-key and slot nicely if unspectacularly into tracks, providing some fairly catchy refrains on “Blood and Form” and “Made To Stray.” The most notable vocal contributions come from fellow Londoner King Krule, who drops a menacing turn about killing a man on “You Took Your Time,” slyly working with the serene and beautifully hazy backdrop laid on by Campos and Maker. He returns on “Meter, Pale, Tone” to repeat the trick, this verbally time tip-toeing across freewheeling polyrhythms.
Much like Crooks and Lovers, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’s tracks are all quite separate entities from each other. The Leif Podhajsky-designed cover is a fairly good visual representation of how the album sounds; each track posseses different sounds, colours, styles and textures, but they combine to make an odd but strangely appealing whole.