Kim Gray softens the edges on unhurried debut LP ‘Perfume’


The hazy programmed drums that open Kim Gray’s debut LP Perfume pull back from the exuberant garage psych he leads in Vancouver rock group Skinny Kids.

Perfume is Skinny Kids minus the ruckus. But although Gray continues paring down his songwriting on each new solo release (he has an EP and two singles behind him), there’s still plenty of colour on Perfume.

Gray softens his edges with synthetic percussion and by removing rock ‘n’ roll from the equation. His daydreamy vocals, heaps of reverb, and bright synths induce a sunsetting headphase that refuses to accept that summer is over. But you can’t fight the seasons: Perfume wafts like a final refreshing breath of the quickly waning summer.

“Little Saigon” soundtracks a flirtatious afternoon in a golden field. “Perfume Ghost” and “When Tomorrow’s Today”, which even have the briefest guitar solos, come closest to a full-band sound. But even those songs drag their bare feet, “burdened” only by the freedom of leisure time.

Bedroom electronics swirling around a guy and his guitar are exactly what the revered and prolific Kurt Vile established himself with. Gray, however, is less detached; Perfume’s songs feel more thought out than Vile’s lone explorations on his debut Constant Hitmaker.

Perfume may be too homogenous for some listeners, but at seven tracks and only 25 minutes long, if all the album does is establish an identifiable tone that can be attached to Kim Gray the solo musician, that’s enough of an accomplishment for now.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu