Kimya Dawson is a quirky lo-fi folk singer and Aesop Rock is a dexterous and dense rapper. The two have collaborated before, but Hokey Fright is their first full length album together.
This pairing makes sense because these two artists each have a conversational wisdom in their work. There’s a positivity to what they do: despite the heaviness of topics such as death, and not just the concept of death, but specific and personal examples involving someone one’s own age.
Kimya Dawson, who you might know from The Moldy Peaches, a band you really might know from the movie Juno, has a way of putting things bluntly. She has this special ability to say things that are so simple but end up being exactly what you need to hear.
Aesop Rock, on the other hand, has a vocabulary that veers into the abstract. He plays with words in ways that are invigorating, and squeezes out every syllable until his verses are just so. His voice is as much a percussion instrument as it is a delivery mechanism for language.
And it is this contrast that makes Hokey Fright such a treat. Their differences are literally established on the opening track when their vocals are doubled up and they speak in antonyms against each other to express the same idea.
If this is your introduction to Kimya Dawson, you’d likely not be surprised to learn that she has written music for children. That’s not to say this music is childish, and it’s certainly not intended for children, but there’s something about the way it embraces people and the details of people’s lives… it’s celebratory of creativity and expression the way I recall the children's programming of PBS.
It’s in that sense this album is like the ultimate sonic comfort food. The DIY aesthetic and straight talk doesn’t make the hyperbolic promise that anything is possible, but that something is, and that’s plenty.
Hokey Fright is out now on Rhymesayers Entertainment.