I’ve been looking forward to this day: January 22nd, arguably the first great release day of 2021. Plenty to write about this week. First up: Cooler Returns, the new Kiwi Jr record. The band already leaked a couple of great songs last year, which is kind of standard practice nowadays to hype upcoming releases. A practice that often results in disappointment once the album arrives. Not in this case, far from it. From album opener Tyler, it’s clear that Kiwi Jr. have not been messing around in 2020. Kiwi Jr. still play the jangly indie rock of their debut we all fell in love with, but on Cooler Returns they upped their game in almost every way. The subtle addition of a saloon piano, organ and harmonica creates a fuller and more mature sound. And with mature, I don’t mean “well they developed their songwriting skills but now sound kinda boring.” This record is fun as hell, and the songwriting is great. Trust me, you can skip adding it to your wantlist, just buy it ASAP. Kiwi Jr. sets the bar high for other bands that are planning to release a new record this year. By the way, kudos to the band for picking the perfect title for a sophomore album that exceeds its predecessor without losing any of the appeal of their debut.