THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Buildings burning in every direction; macabre unknowns in your friendly neighbor’s basement; undecided voters sharpening their pencils: under pressure we could call Kiwi Jr.’s Cooler Returns “timely.” But what year is it, again?
On their sophomoric smash-up, Kiwi Jr. cycle through the recent zigs & looming zags of the new decade, squinting anew at New Year’s parties forgotten and under-investigated small town diner fires, piecing together low-stakes conspiracy theories on what’s coming down the pike in 2021. Put together like a 1,000-piece puzzle, assembled in flow state through the first dull stretch of quarantine, sanitized singer shuffling to sanitized studio by streetcar, masked like it’s the kind of work where getting recognized means getting killed, Cooler Returns materializes as a sprawling survey from the first few bites of the terrible twenties, an investigative exposé of recent history buried under the headlines & ancient kings buried under parking lots.
Not so long since their debut Football Money in archaeological time, unending gray eons later in the dog years of quaran-time, spiritually antipodean Canadians Kiwi Jr. return to disseminate this year’s annual report to the shareholders, burying the incriminating numbers in the endless appendices of a longform narrative record, a 3,000-word tract for stakeholders to pore over. Opener Tyler builds a Frankenstein of all your musician exes; don’t you remember “falling apart in the green room while they drank half the headliner’s rider?” In Waiting In Line we’re still slumbering at the bar, agitation skyrocketing contemplating “what breed of beast protects the back door.” We hear “it isn’t past until it burns,” in Maid Marian’s Toast but what explains the accompanying & extensive itinerary of incinerated Eastern Canadian eateries? Investigated off the clock by Kiwi’s amateur arson division, suspicion is cast on all: The Cook, The Regular, Ms. Scarlett, Colonel Mustard.
Throughout these crises, histories, and head games Kiwi Jr. don’t expect you to be taking notes or checking dates — and on the back nine, when Omaha demands proof that “Woodstock ever happened in the first place,” perhaps the freewheeling guitar groove underfoot tells us all we need to know about who’s been flipping through the festival files, air-drumming along to the complete 10-CD set. These stories — memories of Augusts past, unrepressed & transcribed fast — go down easier thanks to meaningful changes enacted in 2019’s KiwiCares Pledge: delivering on a promise to transition from crunchy to smooth by 2021, the caveman chug of Football Money has been steamed & pressed with the purifying air of a saloon piano — operated with bow-tie untied — and a spring green side-salad of tentatively up-tempo organ taps & freshly fluted harmonica.
A chronically detuned spin of the dial through swivel-chair distractions & WFH daydreams, an immersive ctrl-tab deluge cycling through popular listicle distractions like the unentombing of Richard III, or the deja vu destruction of the Glasgow School of Art, Kiwi Jr. sing this song to an indoor audience, crisscrossing canceled, every other prestige distraction source wrung dry, only songwriting remaining to deliver engrossing tales to the populace, just how you imagine it worked in the old days. Fixing loose ingredients into a sturdy whip, Kiwi Jr. beam in live from the 9-5, striding into 2021 with a mastered brainwave that comes equally from the back room of the record store as the penalty box. And how do we, left holding this box of deliberate entanglements, sign off to those as yet uninitiated, undecided, uncertain, unseen, absent return coordinates – Best Wishes, Warm Regards, Good Luck? Cooler Returns, Cooler Returns, Cooler Returns!”