Kiveskives is a Finnish band that plays instrumental rock. The trio was founded in 2008, and this is their debut full-length, released after one EP called "Painottomassa Tilassa." Despite their young age, the band's already made some small tours around Europe, and "Joystick" will be released in central Europe by "Beste! Unterhaltung" later this year.

I've once seen the trio peforming live (and wrote about it here). Although Kiveskives' expression's basis of instrumental, progressive and weird rock with prominent chiptune-synths and humouristic values extends both the album and live setting, there are some major differences. Whereas the band sounds raw and somewhat out of control when playing live, the album showcases a group that definitely has thought out each note and knows what they're doing.

The songs flow freely, but have a lot of twists, turns and enough of surprises, slower moments and harsher abrasion to keep the listener's interest up. The mood is mostly life-loving and cheery, but at times (such as on the songs "Segerstam" and "Limbo") there's some slightly heavier and darker aspects present to keep the album from being too light and easy.

Aside of the core-trio's instrumentation with synths, drums and a guitar, there's some well-placed adds that lift the album's re-listening value and overall quality a lot. The first one is naturally the both male and female "vocals," or moreso some chants, shouts and other bizarre and positively childish and playful adds that are certain to awake the listener if s/he's to fall into a slumber. A few songs feature some horns, and the guitars are often backed by simple bass-lines that give the songs a good amount of additional mass. These are some things I would've liked to have heard live as well.

Everything on this album sounds thought-out and professional: from the soundscape to the splendid and colourful cover arts to the actual music's range from free jamming to child-like, curious and light-hearted experimentations to angular riffing, everything falls into its place on the album. The band is progressive and experimental, but has a good sense of style - and knows how and when to break the barriers of logic.

Even though the flow of "Joystick" isn't perfect and the band is still partly seeking for their own unique sound and style, they're certainly already on a good start. They just need to further seek to find the trio's strengths and further unify their sound, and to make each instrument provide just a bit more twists and flow to the compositions; or in other words, to rely less on the quest instruments and the additional bass guitar for mass and variation, and find the same punch and twists from their core instruments.

Although not fully matured, "Joystick" is an album that I'm happy to recommend to anyone with a bold mind and a lot of curiosity. I have high expectations for the group's next offering.

7½ / 10