There’s a small moment in the song “Stratosphere” that succinctly sums up Berlin-based Canadian duo Kliffs. It comes around the forty-five-second mark: after singing “I’m here to explore this little thing called love that leaves you wanting more”, vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Mark Bérubé says “Keep it simple” in double-time, and suddenly the whole thing clicks.
Kristina Koropecki (cello, synths, voice) and Bérubé describe Kliffs’s music as “recycled tone poems for the perpetually bemused, and pop songs for shy dancers,” and though that doesn’t smack of simplicity, it’s a perfect fit for the five songs on the pair’s self-titled debut EP. “Cliffs” teeters on the edge of disaster, a spry break-up song that finds Koropecki and Bérubé trading barbed-wire lines while tightrope walking across the chasm between the song’s rhythm and melody. “Beyond My Control” is a sweetly sung, acoustic-based slow dance between Koropecki’s cello and Bérubé’s guitar. “Outside of Cool v1” is similar in its approach but adds a sleek, almost sinister layer of funk that’s an unexpected treat on the EP’s second half.
“Broken Piano” is a devastatingly simple, yet highly effective instrumental closer; more comma than exclamation mark or period. It suggests — as all great debut EP closing tracks should — that Kliffs have more than just recycled tone poems and pop songs for shy dancers to offer up. In its uncomplicated state, “Broken Piano” is a teaser hinting at the depth of songwriting skill and ideas this pair of expats are bringing to Kliffs.