Hiatus Kaiyote spent the 2010s carving out a unique space in music with their distinctive jazz/funk/soul cocktail. After their second album Choose Your Weapon in 2015, a number of notable rappers started to sample their songs and, in the case of Nai Palm, collaborate with them; Palm put out her solo debut Needle Paw in 2017 and featured on Drake’s Scorpion album the following year. Later in 2018 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, putting Kaiyote into a literal hiatus until the situation improved.
Now after Palm’s recovery and a mixtape put out last year from the other members under the name Swooping, Hiatus have finally returned with their third full-length instalment Mood Valiant. The airy, euphoric intro “Flight Of The Tiger Lily” eases us in then slips into “Sip Into Something Soft”, a short dose of Hiatus future-soul built around a hypnotic, lulling groove. Promptly answering the line “they say chivalry is dead” on “Sip”, “Chivalry Is Not Dead” kicks up the mood with a hyperactive, slapping drum and bass backbone, calming back down a bit with “And We Go Gentle” and letting the keys carry the vibe. “Get Sun” is a different feel all together with its slick horns and strings combo while “All The Words We Don’t Say” circles back to “Chivalry” with more accentuating hits and an abundance of titillating bass.
After the trippy oddball interlude “Hush Rattle”, Hiatus offer up an entrancing four minutes of piano-percussion punch with “Rose Water”, reclining from there into the totally chill and utterly freestyle-able number “Red Room”. You can get even more lost in the floaty dimensions of “Sparkle Tape Break Up” then come back down with the intimate cut “Stone Or Lavender,” a far cry from the jumpy Nintendo-soul of Choose Your Weapon. Capping it off is “Blood And Marrow”, a comparatively simpler track in comparison to the others and a more centred one insofar as it doesn’t venture too far off into any huge vocal or instrumental showcases (which isn’t even a bad thing with this band, just to be clear). It’s a nice way to ease the listener back down and call it a record.
Even with a 6-year gap since their last album and everything else that transpired in the time since, there really wasn’t much reason to expect that Hiatus Kaiyote would come back stale. On Mood Valiant, Hiatus ismore refined and certainly more artistically mature than before, putting them on a strong trajectory towards perfecting their craft and then some if they stay the course. The greater sonic variety and enhanced dynamics you get on this record will leave no Kaiyote fan anything but optimistic for what’s to come down the road. Let’s just hope that road isn’t quite as rocky, nor as long as the last one.