“Follow the Leader” is the debut single from kibbokid and it is unlike anything I have ever heard before.
First and foremost, the artwork complementing music should never be ignored, nor understated: everything an artist does is – predominantly – intentional. The alluring cover fronting kibbokid’s sublime effort is taken from a late 19th century print of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’. With all its arcane connotations, the absence of colour may strike you most, before the crowd (or followers) take your eye – all of whom are blindfolded – introducing the salient themes of this work. The title, “Follow the Leader” may glance to J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy (1911) – we might be better acquainted to Disney’s Peter Pan (1953) – and sparks all kinds of interpretations: perhaps most resoundingly, a socio-political critique from kibbokid pointed at the current Conservative Prime Minister – or leader – assuming kibbokid owes his name to the group, Kibbo Kift.
“Follow the Leader” commences with an outrageous bass line, coupled perhaps with another instrument (the not knowing is what I love about this work), which establishes the chief motif of this unpredictable, magnificent rollercoaster. There are wonderful chromatic ornamentals – if I am not mistaken, harmonic sevenths – at the end of a number of the bars which create such a rich dichotomy between the song, wrestling itself, being simultaneously jubilant but undeniably dark, for some reason calling to mind the similar juxtaposition in Ari Aster’s Midsommar (2019): verging on sinister. The refrain of ‘Follow the Leader’ works absolutely well, especially when kibbokid employs the timeless – though here not prosaic – proverb of jumping in the river when told. The lyrics, ‘But if the Leader should say jump, you better jump in the river’, in both meaning and delivery, arrive, undoubtedly, as a derision of the pantomime we live, or participate, in.
Well-appointed percussion next embellishes this delight as shy harmonies perform a lush role in this intoxicating music. Returning to the refrain, the drums are very successful. The beat – reminding me of that in Bombay Bicycle Club’s Feel (2014), striking Southern-Asian influences – drives this number forward as some kind of celebration, with fabulous fills and brilliant bongos to further enrich this piece with African undertones, perhaps distantly reminiscent of Paul Simon.
The solo – on, again, some mysterious instrument or effect, which I like – is exuberant and euphoric. The sample of sirens in the subsequent verse amplifies this contrast between the mood of the song and its lyrics (though I am apprehensive, maybe not suspicious, of the lyricism here); and latterly, the change in musical layers by kibbokid is compelling, along with the remarkable break in the music which leads us back into the fantastic finale. This is outstanding work.
Erudite, satirical, wonderful.
kibbokid: Website | Spotify | YouTube | Instagram | Twitter
Original Photo Credits: kibbokid
Author: Harry Lowery (Instagram: @_hkglowery_)