Camden-based indie rockers Kawala have released their first mixtape Paradise Heights.
Kawala was originally a folk duo consisting of singer Jim Higson and guitarist Daniel McCarthy, who formed the band while studying together at university in the early 2010s. The band has since expanded to a quintet, released three EP’s, a handful of singles, and a breakout streaming hit in 2018 with ‘Do It Like You Do.’ Now the band has made their most definitive statement of intent yet: Paradise Heights.
‘Chasing/Wasting Time’ kicks off the mixtape with a blast of light and breezy indie-pop with a more molten and aggressive lyrical burn. You can hear the frustration in lines like, “You’ll never quite be enough/When all you need is luck/You’ve only ever had an ordinary chance.” Anyone who’s ever played to an empty bar, or written an article that no one care’s about, surely knows the feeling.
The following track, ‘Angry Man’, keeps up the propulsive energy paired with some less-than joyous lyrics. ‘1,000,000 x Better’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’ play into similar themes, but Kawala are pop music pros who know that even the most melancholy of lyrics should be paired with some delightfully catchy melodies.
The only thing strange about Paradise Heights is that, if you were a fan of the group, or maybe just curious about the band, you already knew most of the mixtape’s material. ‘Chasing/Wasting Time’, ‘Ticket To Ride’, ‘1,000,000 x Better’, and ‘Angry Man’ were all previously released in some form, leaving just two new songs to be featured as the major draws for this new release. Those songs, ‘Back of My Hand’ and ‘Arms Wide Open’, are pushed to the final two slots of the mixtape and are mellow and meditative numbers compared to the high energy bounce of the previous four tunes.
Arbitrary details aside, Paradise Heights plays as a fast, fun, and loosely enjoyable collection of indie-pop tracks that will equally fortify the band’s already strong fanbase and convert some newbies into the Kawala camp along the way. The band know their way around a hook, are quickly establishing a signature sound, and play into all their best tendencies on Paradise Heights.