I always like to watch bands grow from their debut and attempt one of the biggest moments in any band’s career which is to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Toronto’s Kiwi Jr. for sure is in that watch group following their catchy 2019 debut Football Money on Canadian label Mint Records. The album was even re-released internationally a year ago in January 2020, which also caught the ear of Sub Pop Records that signed them for album number two – Cooler Returns.
Their debut was full of engaging indie rock foot tappers and the good news is that Cooler Returns returns the band right where they left off in the jangle indie pop world. The big difference is that you can hear the slight maturity of the band on this album. Every track on this record sounds more planned and focused on all aspects of the group from the vocal wordplay from singer Jeremy Gaudet to an expanded use of the piano from pro Jay McCarroll (Hayden).
It is easy to get a Kiwi Jr. track in your head like “Undecided Voters” with its chanting call out chorus and message of feeling annoyed with a lack of political conviction. The group consistently looks outside to the world for inspiration be it the 2020 Super Bowl on the title track or looking into the future on “Omaha.” The band truly at times has the punch of The Strokes while staying more mellow like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. You blend that style with vocals that are hard not to hear a youthful Stephen Malkmus and you have painted an accurate picture.
Kiwi Jr. are an easy band to evaluate. You get what you hear and their creative tempo changing riffs with light hearted indie rock had me sold seconds into the album’s opening track “Tyler.” The record is only 37 minutes and cruises by quickly. Kiwi Jr. definitely avoided the slump on their second outing and Cooler Returns only becomes more infectious with every spin!
Key Tracks: “Undecided Voters” / “Omaha” / “Norma Jean’s Jacket”
Artists With Similar Fire: The Kinks / Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever / Disq
Review History: Football Money (2019)
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony