Singer/songwriter/multiple instrumentalist Everett Young has taken a journey from creating pop music to scoring film and TV. But before he takes the next step to full on orchestral music and arrangements, Young released a collection of songs under the moniker Kicklighter to get the, as he calls it, “intellectual pop” music out of his system first. However, his debut album Paper Planes Vol. 1 has so much energy and life that it’s sad to think that he might deprive audiences from more of this unique pop sound.
The opening track shows off Young’s talent for bringing a listener into his space and sound. “Too Much Too Soon” has a great percussive beat behind it with a clean production and feels like a good build to it. It’s a soulful and honest song, while “Howard Jones” has a wonderful pop sound that’s tuneful and expressive, and seems to be about the British singer/songwriter known for songs like “Things Can Only Get Better” and “What Is Love.”
The song “A Week of Rain” is an upbeat pop song with vivid imagery and storytelling that reminds me of the best of Peter Gabriel meets Nick Hornby, while “Bittersweet” keeps it mellow as a slow jam with its soft and smooth as buttery goodness with clever wordplay and lyrics. “Four Leaf Clover” feels like an imaginative pop arrangement with full-on horns and bright vocals from the first listen to the last. Each song continues to impress, while never falling into sappy or corny.
The track “Dark Side of the Moon” is a touching and thoughtful ballad that’s full of big emotions and well-considered feelings, as the song “Do it Again” is a bouncy and fun crowd-pleaser that has great vocals and a driving sound. Wonderful and mature songwriting that’s seems unpretentious and deceptively complex. It’s followed by “A Friend of Mine,” which is a pleasant and smile-inducing pop sound that’s reminiscent of Tahiti 80 and Cibo Matto by way of Prefab Sprout.
“It’s On the Tip of My Tongue” is a nice meditation on regret and longing that suits the overall themes of Paper Planes Vol. 1 with electrifying guitar work and poignant points and lyrics, while “They Don’t Write That Kind of Song Anymore” seems to be a knowing and biting comment at Young’s own songwriting, while also a look at himself as an artist. At the same time, it feels like a pop version of songs from Badly Drawn Boy.
The album ends with “It’s Over,” which features a strong funky groove that sounds like it could be from Jamiroquai, or maybe if it were beefed up with a hip-hop break, it could be from Pharrell Williams. It’s a dancey way to end an album, as it sends the listener on their way with a smile on their face and a groove in their heart.
Although the end of the album isn’t as strong as the beginning (but “It’s Over” is a genuine blow-the-roof-off track), Kicklighter delivers a very strong effort that’s worthy of your attention. He makes the best possible pop sounds for the middle aged, while for Everett Young, the late 80s didn’t end in 1990, but rather it continues on in 2018. Now I’m really looking forward to what Paper Planes Vol. 2 has in store for us!