David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, End Times Undone

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 07.29.14 in Reviews

Since 1978, David Kilgour’s flickering, room-suffusing guitar sound has been the nervous system of New Zealand’s indie-pop scene — first with his on-again-off-again trio the Clean, and later with other bands including, for the past 17 years or so, the Heavy Eights. Some of his records focus on songcraft; a few spotlight his love of psychedelic guitar tones. And some are just a showcase for his phenomenal palette of guitar tones. End Times Undone is a bit of all three: The beautifully composed, Phil Spectorian “Some Things You Don’t Get Back” checks the first box, while the hushed sketch “I Don’t Want to Live Alone” fills the second. Most of this album, though, falls into the third category, from the distorted fusillade that ends “Lose Myself in Sound” to the fretboard-wandering stroll he takes over the single-minded drone of “Crow.”

A musically and lyrically exploratory record

End Times Undone is, above all, an exploratory record — which sometimes means that it wanders out of tempo as Kilgour and band poke around a song for what sounds like the first time. But exploration is also one of Kilgour’s lyrical themes here, especially on “Christopher Columbus”; even when he’s wandering, he’s very deliberate about it. And the album’s highlight, “Dropper,” is just variations on a mammoth riff, ultimately resolving into a little guitar line that sounds like a fault line cracking open. Kilgour’s voice is somewhere deep in the mix, intoning something whose only comprehensible words are “yeah” and “nowadays,” but the squall of his guitar speaks eloquently as he charges into the unknown depths of the song’s two simple chords.