Kidsticks is a deeply experimental album with more instruments and sounds than you could ever imagine being played across 10 stunning tracks. Beth Orton has dropped the folk in folktronica and gone all out full on electronica.
’Snow’, the opening track, is an eye opening look into the progression of Beth’s music since her 2012 album, Sugaring Season. The experimental song contains a variety of unidentifiable sounds which seem to build up and then drop out one by one throughout the very long outro as she sings over and over again “I’m getting high, I feel so…” The following song, ‘Moon’, has the same chaotic feel to it as she sings, in clear, ethereal vocals “I know how the sun feels on my skin / I wanna know what the moon feels like within” over what sounds like wind chimes and the beat of a xylophone. ‘Petals’, the next track, takes on a disturbing quality half way through as there is a sudden explosion of drums and heavy cymbals almost too tinny to be listenable. Relief comes as an electric guitar that sounds like white noise plays us out to the end.
The most experimental track on the whole album is ‘Corduroy Legs’; an amalgamation of effects and instruments create the noise of an active forest as Beth does spoken word. It’s quite beautiful in its entirety and the quiet piano ending is a pleasant contrast to the build up of noise throughout both the song and the album so far. Its calming sound prepares you for the instrument driven ‘Flesh and Blood’ which comes in at almost 6 minutes long.
Whilst there are some more structured, fit for radio type songs like ‘1973’ and ‘Wave’ (both of which use a lot less instruments and effects) Kidsticks feels very much like it is is the work of an accomplished musician who can finally do what she wants with her music. It’s seriously out there but so incredibly well put together. Beth has progressed to a whole other level with this album and the music speaks volumes about her incredible talents.