Monday, February 06, 2006

At17's Kiss Kiss Kiss

It's no big secret: the music of my people sucks. Cantopop, Mandarinpop, Whatever - it's a bland, overproduced mess, with about as much flavour as tofu, sterile and overly mechanical, with melodrama a replacement for passion...and that's on it's better days.

That said, a small current of alternative music has finally found its place in Hong Kong. Though Taiwan has had a long history of left-of-centre bands, Hong Kong had been mired for nearly a decade with the "Song Gods" (Leon Lai, Andy Lau, and Aaron Kwok), only to segue into faux pop-rock-rap shite, all comprised of actors turned singers turned actors. It's only been about a few years that other music has bubbled from the undercurrent, and only the recent past that it's been any good.

At17 are an odd duo: in a market more used to Debbie Gibson wannabes (Faye Wong being one of few exceptions), here you have HK's basic answer to Tegan and Sara (for better or worse). The two mainly do their acoustic pop thing, but with the right production, Kiss Kiss Kiss sees flourishes of Stereolab, shoegazing Brit-pop, speakeasy jazz, and better Kylie. The two have obvious talent, and it's a minor miracle that they haven't been overproduced and subjected to the cookiecutters.

Kiss Kiss Kiss is also a small breath of relief from HK's so-called indie pop, which has been run rampant by the lo-fi twee-pop of artists like Pancakes, whose earnestness quickly gets overtaken by shoddiness. Instead, At17 find a good balance between glossiness and quirkiness, and though there's the odd clunker, Kiss Kiss Kiss is generally light and fun fare.

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