K's Choice were originally formed in the early 1990s by brother and sister Gert and Sarah Bettens, enjoying some success, including a support slot for Alanis Morissette on the Jagged Little Pill tour. They split after four albums but a year ago reformed, and it is a really good thing they did. Echo Mountain's a terrific album, and full of surprising rewards.
Led by Sarah's vocals (reminiscent of Aimee Mann and Shawn Colvin) the six-piece are not into over-the-top histrionics, preferring a simple approach to their pop/rock mix. Across this double album there are delicate acoustic moments, alongside sweeping alternative rock, similar in places to Placebo and their like.
Opening track 'Come Live The Life' starts gently before a slow building guitar cuts in and it all goes a little anthemic, a sort of swirling 'Chasing Cars'. Do not let that put you off though; there is more intrigue here than Snow Patrol's more mainstream moments can muster. While 'Perfect' and 'Echo Mountain' follow a very similar canvas to the opener, 'If This Isn't Right' takes a different tack. A jaunty piano driven pop song, it is instantly catchy - in a good way.
Most of disc one is up-tempo and it is on the second half where more musically demanding listeners will find intrigue. '16' and 'Killing Dragons' are two of the tracks the band are most excited about, with the former about the beauty of your first kiss and first love. 'Killing Dragons' starts in the same gentle acoustic style but at half way launches into an explosion of edgy guitar as the harmonies soar alongside.
K's Choice have certainly saved up some cracking tunes during their time away, with other stand out moments including the gentle country-pop of 'These Are The Thoughts' and 'America', where those harmonies work superbly over another gently building guitar and atmospheric sound effects.
Echo Mountain is the band's first release in a decade, but they sound like they have never been away. The fragile vocals and intricate tunes match perfectly and although there is nothing overly challenging here, it was definitely worth dusting the band down and getting the brother and sister creativity going again.