Little Kid 
A Million Easy Payments 

Ordinal Records • 2024

A Million Easy Payments hits the jackpot, synthesizing Little Kid’s distinctive lo-fi aesthetic and mystical allure into a bewitching brew of a record.

Seven feels like a lucky number for Toronto-based indie folk band Little Kid. At the very least, it’s charmed as their seventh full-length, A Million Easy Payments, hits the jackpot when it comes to synthesizing their distinctive lo-fi aesthetic and mystical allure into a bewitching brew of a record.

I finally jumped onto the Little Kid bandwagon in 2020 with album six, Transfiguration Highway, “a series of homespun, harmonica-blessed homilies” that transfixed me with head Kid Kenny Boothby’s sardonic lyrics and melodies pasted together with tape and like a Mr. Dressup craft. I joined my DOMINIONATED colleague, Laura Stanley, who had already been on board for quite some time,  along with countless others who had already fallen under the ramshackle band’s rapturous spell. In so many ways, being a fan of Little Kid feels like joining a secret society, a sect that relishes Boothby’s religiously-themed psalms as if they were parables handed down from on high.

A Million Easy Payments doesn’t abandon the band’s roots, but Boothby’s lyrical themes feel more secular this time. The album’s opening track and first single, “Something to Say,” is a clever and heartbreaking tale of finding oneself on the wrong side of the gossip mill and discovering that you’re now an outsider of what used to be your in-crowd. It’s a position and a place that feels disconcertingly familiar for Boothby, who has regularly tapped the complexities of growing up in small-town, church-going communities in his songs.  The follow-up single (and second in the album’s running order) “Bad Energy” ups the ante in all aspects; it is a slow-burning epic in the tradition of multi-verse folk songs inspired by Bob Dylan. “My overall goal with this song was to implicate Christianity – or, at least, the twisted, Americanized version of it that I grew up with – in a lot of the evil going on in our world: war, genocide, rape culture, capitalist greed, resource exploitation, climate change,” he says, “There is some personal stuff in there, and some pretty universal stuff.”

Continuing Conversations

Kenny Boothby of Little Kid goes 20 or 20 with Weadee and Weajue. They dive into core memories, talk about serendipitous encounters, and what he would like to receive in a million easy payments.

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As has been Little Kid’s style throughout their back catalogue, from Boothby’s initial solo bedroom recordings to the current full-band line-up (featuring Brodie Germain on drums and guitar), Paul Vroom on bass, Megan Lunn adding vocals, banjo, and keyboard, and Liam Cole on drums and percussion), “Bad Energy” takes its time getting to the point. Using rhythmic repetition and traditional folk verse structures lets Boothby lure his listeners in, his distinctive voice a salve that softens the sandpaper-rough edges of his words. That the song suddenly drops out after seven-and-a-half minutes hits you like the wake-up call its words are meant to be. It’s a jarring transition when you first hear it, especially if you’re not listening closely or are playing it back on a system that clips the highs and lows. Put on a pair of great (or even good) headphones and close your eyes, and the song transforms into a dramatic lament for our modern times.

Boothby revisits the style and form of “Bad Energy” with the stunning closer, “What Qualifies As Silence.” “All the words that I said / Words I later regretted / And the love that we made / And the love that I wasted,” Boothby sings at the tail end of a litany of situations and experiences that meet the title’s criteria, “See my dad in his chair / And the soil where he’s buried / And the men that I trust / And the room where they touch me / Qualifies as silence / The closest I can find.” Clocking in at almost ten minutes, it is an affecting and engrossing ballad that encapsulates the barbed themes that mark A Million Easy Payments and elevates it above the indie-folk fray: that, as much as mindfulness gurus and life coaches preach that happiness is not a commodity that you can buy, there is always someone, somewhere who pays the price for our comfort and peace of mind; that our universe is perpetually balancing out good fortune with bad luck; the price may be a pittance, but you’ll be paying it in perpetuity.

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