Rebel Kicks opens “Past Life” with a bit of sleight of hand. The tentative keyboard notes opening the track seem to signal that we’re about to venture into ballad territory or at least explore delicate textures, but Rebel Kicks explodes the moment. “Past Life” launches in full and we’re traveling light with this effervescent collision of rock and pop influences. It’s an instant winner for this young New York City-based band from their soon-to-be-released EP somewhere.in.between and promises to be one of that collection’s marquee moments.
If you’ve been captivated by their sound and energy, there’s good news. Rebel Kicks are set to perform at The Cutting Room in NYC this Friday, November 3rd at 3:30pm. This event is significant, marking their biggest NYC show to date. A chance to experience the band’s dynamism live, amidst the ambiance of one of New York’s iconic venues.
If you find yourself itching for the song to end, it will likely be because you can’t wait to hear it again. There’s a lot going on here. Rebel Kicks latches onto a mid-tempo pace that nonetheless crackles with barely restrained energy and there are elements of symphonic pop hinted at throughout the arrangement that surround the track with tantalizing, yet understated, ambition. They don’t come across as a pretentious band overestimating their own talents but rather as a cool collection of musical artists who understand how to best frame their considerable and ever-growing gifts.
The slashing guitar fills layered throughout the track pack a lot of bite while filling the arrangement with splashes of color that further distinguish the tune. Rebel Kicks profit handsomely, as well, from a thunderous rhythm section attack that provides the needed ballast for this tune countering its lighter touches. The song’s construction is one of its unquestionable highlights. They wait perhaps a little longer than customary to hit the song’s bridge, but that delay helps ratchet up the tension a little and gives their songcraft a slightly different spin than we might hear from their contemporaries and peers.
The vocals are among those lighter touches. They have idiosyncratic moments and the dual nature of Rebel Kicks’ vocal presentation allows them to show off a different side of their talents than we might otherwise hear from those same aforementioned peers and contemporaries. They mix the vocals up enough that there are multiple variations in their approach and adding post-production effects to the singing does nothing to dilute the song’s message or its overall effect on listeners.
It’s an outstanding single that captures the best of both the rock and pop worlds. Let’s be thankful, as well, that they disdain any perfunctory instrumental breaks or solos. It isn’t that sort of song. What additions we do hear to this track aren’t perfunctory, but instead add to the larger whole. Rebel Kicks’ “Past Life” comes off as a work from a band beyond their chronological years and serving up musical fare we’d sooner expect from a top-flight unit a decade or more into their run. It’s an excellent introduction to their soon-to-drop EP and can stand toe to toe with any other five-star single released in 2023. It’ll likely be a part of the band’s live set for some time to come and, as even a single listen to this track reveals, with good reason. “Past Life” is a gem.