Madeline Kenney – Perfect Shapes

Madeline Kenney's second album, Perfect Shapes sees the singer-songwriter taking a new and dynamic direction

Album Review by Eliza Gearty | 01 Oct 2018
  • Madeline Kenney – Perfect Shapes
Album title: Perfect Shapes
Artist: Madeline Kenney
Label: Carpark Records
Release date: 5 Oct

Versatile is an understatement when it comes to Madeline Kenney. At only 26, the Oakland-based artist is a trained dancer and professional baker, with a degree in neuroscience under her belt; her 2017 debut album Night Night at the First Landing, full of fuzzy guitar lines and gorgeous melodies, earned her comparisons to bands like Mazzy Star and Yo La Tengo. Perfect Shapes is her nearly perfect follow-up – when she sings on its fourth track, No Weekend, ‘I’m sorry I can’t go out... / I don’t know where my time goes,’ the statement almost seems tongue-in-cheek. 

Perfect Shapes is a much more dynamic and unconventional album than her debut. Produced by Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, who plays various instruments across the record, it retains the Californian indie-rock dreaminess that marked Kenney's debut, but it's much sharper; the fuzzy, distorted guitar hooks are offset by taut, piercing melodic refrains and some seriously skilful percussion. Kenney calls her style 'twang-haze' and that's exactly what this record sounds like – the vocal lines might be soft and tranquil on songs like Overhead and Always Around Me, a little reminiscent of Cat Power, but there's something pleasantly jarring about the slightly out-of-sync percussion and surging synths.

Cut Me Off, with its catchy, nasal guitar riff and Kenney's playful, quivering vocal tics, is the most energetic pop song on the album, while Your Art is sweetly conversational – 'Sit with me / I came across your Art... / I know it's getting hard / But people don't know what's good.' These songs are more impressionistic than anything Kenney has produced to date making for interesting and thoughtful music, and an accomplished second album.

Listen to: Cut Me Off, Know, Your Art