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Kisses: Balanced yet jubilant


Kisses duo, Zinzi Edmundson and Jesse Kivel, have released Rest in Paradise, a neo-disco album that is balanced, jubilant, and just in time for a low-key holiday. With live instrumentation, it gave me the feeling I was at an outdoor disco or funky dinner party, alongside eccentric guests with even more eccentric dance moves.

Opener “Paradise Waiting Room” sets an immediate, cheerful tone via gellin’ rhythm and a recording of people conversing in the background. This blur of conversation is what gives “Paradise Waiting Room” a dinner party essence, lit up by a quick spritzing of jazzy, silver tinsel horn. This funky party boat glides right into a dock of peaceful, conclusive piano that ripples as the voices of the partygoers are amplified.

Nighttime ballads balance this theme, especially on “Sun,” where the male vocalist starts  this babymaker track off appropriately with, “I’m feeling something, it’s all in-tune.” With patient percussion, rhythm and vocals, this song takes its good ‘ole time.

This pace is replicated on the flat-out catchy “The Nile,” where I was stoked to hear Kisses boldly bring out the cowbells. Electric guitar sways like a low-waist-lined seductress, but it’s “Fred Roses” that really gets into things. With a full moon of a trumpet and soft, burgundy vocals that sing, “It’s written in the sun, it shines on everyone, you wanna be in love,” “Fred Roses” confirms that Rest in Paradise is just as alluring as it is convivial. This mood returns in the slow, sedated-by-oxytocin, “Eternal,” which has a gondola-like romanticism. And then finally reaches its emotive peak in the placid, swirling, conical, closing title track.

Bedazzling lyrics and the trademark Kisses groove channel a supreme sexiness take-over in “Jam.” The vocalist cries, “Oh, baby sista, please dance with me/I know what you’re thinking, but please dance with me…jam, on, jam on,” creating a subtle naughtiness. That heightened level of emotion appears again in a swelling horn section during the last 45 seconds of “Sunset Ltd.,” which is my version of those locker room jams they play in the final moments before game time.

“Control,” the teasing, half-smirk of a song, is a stand-out on the album. It sizzles and slides through synth and exotic percussion. Poppy male vocals, hand claps, and gentle trombone give “Control” a rollerskating-at-a-disco, dizzying buzz. Flirtatious, easy-going, and almost boy-band-like lyrics, “From the west side to the east side, she don’t know what’s right,” complete it.

I read that the duo recently got married and had a baby. And now the synched-up, jovial energy of the record all makes sense; Rest in Paradise is a celebration of the past that lead us here, of hope for the bright future, and of the freedom of being present in the moment. —Rachel Haney