6 years. A lot can happen in 6 years.
For Australian nu-jazz/future-soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, and especially for their lead singer Nai Palm, the past half-decade, since their acclaimed 2015 album Choose Your Weapon, was a roller-coaster - a busy touring schedule, lots of new creative ideas & music writing, as well as fighting breast cancer and coping with the loss of her dear rescue bird, Charlie. And a global pandemic.
But 2021 appears to be the start of a healing process. And it was also the right time for Nai Palm, Paul Bender (bass), Simon Mavin (keys), and Perrin Moss (drums)'s new album, Mood Valiant, to see the light of the world - channeling all those troubles into positive emotions. In March they announced they join the renowned Flying Lotus's label Brainfeeder and dropped "Get Sun" (featuring Brazilian legend Arthur Verocai), and then they also released the surprisingly slow jam "Red Room" and the sexy "Chivalry Is Not Dead" - three different tracks, showing the variety of their music but all with that special Hiatus Kaiyote touch of experimental jazz & heartfelt soul.
The countdown to the album drop climaxed with the release of the official video of the 1st single - an absolutely stunning & trippy, retrofuturistic sci-fi film that includes space travel, flying velociraptors, a fluffy sun, and the already famous station wagon:
Today, Mood Valiant, named after her mother's car and celebrating life, is available on all platforms and is one hell of a musical experience.
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My mother had two Valiant station wagons, iconic, vintage Aussie cars. One was white and one was black. And depending on what mood she was in, she would drive one or the other. She was a single mother with six kids: If she drove the black one, you knew not to fuck with her.Nai Palm
The title of the album really encapsulates the whole spectrum of the journey. Everyone’s been through some big challenges. I feel like we charged through the mud to get this thing done. And there’s just this valiant, victorious feeling, coming out of storm into calm waters. The sun is shining, we see the shore. We did that! I feel proud of the way this sounds, the emotional depth of it. And I hope that it brings people some sort of comfort in this hard time.Paul Bender
12 songs, the majority of which linked together with a cinematic touch, thanks to Arthur Verocai's strings, and all of which blessed with Nai's vocal harmonies, kinda divided into two 5-track sections, by short bits ("Flight Of The Tiger Lily" and "Hush Rattle") that serve as introductions into both journeys - the first one being more vibrant and the second one - slightly more melancholic & trippy.
Although the first full song "Sip Into Something Soft" is also pretty seductive, it creates a sense of urgency with the driving drums, leading to what they called "a 3-minute pop anthem" - "Chivalry Is Not Dead". The next piece "And We Go Gentle" features groovy drums and is reminiscent of a sultry '00s r&b gem - certainly one of my favourite tracks from the record. After the already instant Hiatus Kaiyote-classic "Get Sun" comes the psychedelic "All The Words We Don't Say" with darker synths, guitars, and beats.
From the 2nd half, I must definitely recommend "Sparkle Tape Break Up", with its raw, live drums, mesmerizing keys, and absolutely stunning warm voice of Nai, topped up with hazy backvocals. And the gorgeous, Disney-like ballad "Stone or Lavender", that they created in Arthur Verocai's studio in late-2019, with its beautiful piano & strings with gentle vocals, paying tribute to Nai's parrot Charlie. And you can tell the album is coming to an end - with the super psychedelic "Blood and Marrow" that reminds us once again Hiatus Kaiyote are all about weird & genre-defying music.
Mood Valiant is an act of love, of courage, of altered perspective, of sister-and-brotherhood.
When you think your life is going to be taken away from you, it makes you think about who you are. I guess after the breast cancer scare I decided that I needed to prove to life that the offering I have is genuine. My only wish is to live and offer my experience of time and beauty.Nai Palm