There’s certainly no shortage of musical artists out there know more for their lyrics than for their music. Morrissey, for all his abilities as a lyricist, had to work with Johnny Marr to really show himself. Likewise, there was a period in the late 70s when critics considered Mark Knopfler a better wordsmith than composer (in their defense, it was a few years yet until Brothers in Arms saw release). This also applies to a local artist, Duncan Kissinger.
Kissinger’s Lyrical Sense
While Kissinger doesn’t quite have the soulfulness, or angst, of a Morrisey or a Knopfler, his lyrics have a refreshing frankness to them. He says what he has to say and does so with an indie panache. Likewise, he usually injects humor a humor into his writing that cushions any listener’s sensibilities when he deals with darker subjects.
Most of his subject matter is readily familiar to any twenty-something: regrets, not knowing what the heck is going on, sweatpants. There are also times he just lets himself go and writes something totally crazy.
What makes it good is the wit with which he expresses himself and his refusal to wallow. In that way, he is superior to Morrissey, who has built a reputation on doing exactly that. That said, while witty, saying that his lyrics are at the same level of overall quality as Morrisey or Knopfler would be overselling them. They are close though.
Musically, Kissinger employs a languid, lo-fi sound. This gives the music a nice, home-cooked sort of feel while also being dreamy. His melodies are uncomplicated, plaintive things that twang and ring in and out of the soundscape as Kissenger’s high, perishing voice expounds on whatever unknown substance is filling his stomach this time. The effect is like listening to a friend give an extended lecture on their philosophy of life while the both of you are in the “everything is fuzzy and distant” phase of intoxication.
His melodies are nothing special, but they are well-crafted enough that they rise above the merely functional. This works to his advantage because many of his songs are very short, with many clocking in at under two minutes. In all, it imparts his songs with a density that longer tracks just wouldn’t have.
You have a hard time going wrong with short and sweet, and Duncan Kissinger understands this very well. That quality alone makes him a worthy addition to Indy’s local scene.