Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant: First Impressions

Stevenson Altidor

Nothing is more authentic than your first listen. Nothing captures the excitement, the disappointment and the shock more accurately than that. Or when the project you expected to be a classic turns out to be a dud. Especially when that Goldlink album was as bad as you thought it’d be. I wanted to capture that roller coaster of emotions with this first impression review. I’ll listen to an album in its entirety, no skips and no pauses.

And for the first installment, I’ll be listening to the Hiatus Kaiyote new album Mood Valiant. The Melbourne-based group has been an inspiration in hip hop due to how often they’ve been sampled. A follow up to what I considered one of the top 10 albums of the 2010s, the buzz surrounding Mood Valiant has reached a fevered peak.

1. Flight of the Tiger Lily

Noami’s voice is so full of soul. Hearing her hum sounds full of life. The intro is pretty short, but the strings are full of color—a lot of energy. I’m excited to come out on the other side of this expedition.

2. Sip Into Something Soft

Where did that base come from? Man, it’s so overwhelming. Drowns out the rest of the instrumentation and takes center stage. This record sounds like a proper introduction. These synths are silk smooth and complement Noami’s voice so well.

3. Chivalry Is Not Dead

Now, I heard this song already, so I’m glad I can sit back and sing along. “If I were a leopard slug/I would reach out with a Blue rose/ wrapping myself around you.” How did she make a simile about being a bug so romantic? This is the kind of song you could play when your kids ask you how babies are born. One thing the Hiatus Kaiyote does well is filling their songs with texture but never making it sound cluttered. The zany guitar, the syncopated claps, the rhythmic drums, the electronic synths all go well together. Damn, I didn’t want this to end.

4. And We Go Gentle

This is a drastic change of pace. A calming presence after an energetic song. Not a fan of the repetitive chorus. Can someone, anyone, please give Noami a light. A minute in, and she still doesn’t have a light. Seductive, but in the Hiatus Kaiyote standard of abstract writing. Whoever is playing that guitar is the GOAT right now. We get a proper verse, and that’s repeated as well. I’ll return to this track later.

5. Get Sun

When a track starts with a countdown, you know greatness awaits. It’s like a different instrument is taking center stage. The drum sounds wildly dynamic, and the guitar once again is subtle but impactful. “Feed me rhinestones/ Bowing into the void.” Naomi is singing her heart out and saying things I need a couple of listens to understand. Hoping they release the instrumental version of this. 2 minutes of instruments and random O’s, and Ahh? Yes, please. This executes the feeling of wading through a safari much better.

6. All The Words We Don’t Say

What is this? And I mean that in a good way. Five songs in, and this album is everywhere. The lack of a set path makes this interesting. It sounds like she’s rapping. No, what is this for real? This song is so good, and I feel bad for not understanding what I’m supposed to appreciate here. The ending is a complete tone shift. Mystery lies ahead.

7. Hush Rattle

The sound design for these short tracks is exceptional. That is all.

8. Rose Water

These keys sound like a rope tied around your waist, and the drums come in with power to reel you in. “All of my heart, all of my heart/ It wants to hold you.” That hit hard for me, man. Everything reminds me of her. Both the drums, chimes and the subtle flute makes the record a unique character. Like it’s inspired by African Drums.

9. Red Room

This was the first single for the album, and its placement is perfect. As bare as the album is going to get, showcasing Naomi’s light, raspy high notes.

10. Sparkle Tape Break Up

Did they leave the expedition already, or did I miss the exit? It feels like the theme feels like it comes and goes as it pleases. The album has found its footing in its pace. The instrumentation calms but gives it some bounce paired with highly emotional lyrics. One thing you could always count on, you will never be bored listening to this group.

11. Stone Or Lavender

Welp, the album got more stripped apart. Just piano keys, bass, and a violin. I want to be a fly on the wall in their writing sessions. Poignant yet so abstract. Witty, intricate, and concise. It’s a gift of theirs. This is one of my favorites. Her voice is so soothing and evokes so much emotion.

12. Blood And Morrow

The album is ending just how it’s ending. Purposefully enamored with it’s sound design. Each instrument acts independent of one other to create this ecosystem filled with high pitched vocals, texture and birds. The musical range is vast and the vocals transverse through them with much wisdom. Definitely a great ender to an album.