Inspiring sophomore album shows a personal view of Midwest

Kid Dakota is one of the most perfect bands out there. The lyrics, vocals, guitar work and songwriting are all not only excellent, but they fit together in perfect harmony to create an entirely new brand of moody, literate and personal rock music. And they rock a lot.

“The West is the Future” follows up the band’s 2002 debut CD “So Pretty” and marks a noticeable change in tone. Both albums are lyrically dark, with themes running the spectrum between personal turmoil to universal despair, but there’s an intangible element of hope that comes through the music of “The West is the Future” that was unsettlingly absent in the band’s debut. Songwriter and frontman Darren Jackson has added slight touches of humor and musical brightness to Kid Dakota’s palette on the new album, and it makes for a more varied and accessible listen.

The album opens with a foreboding declamation on the dangerous culture of Manifest Destiny titled “Pilgrim.” The breakneck pace and surprisingly awake and emphatic vocals come as a shock to the listener familiar only with the first album, but the strength of the song vanquishes any potential doubts. “Howdy there pilgrim/Well you’re not supernatural/In spite of the airplanes/In spite of the atoms,” Jackson warns in one of the verses.

Jackson continues the exploration of the dark side of the Midwest, which he started with “So Pretty,” poetically blending the natural processes of the land with the manmade terrors of Western society in songs like “Winterkill” and “Homesteader.” The album closes with a beautiful solo reprise of the themes of “Pilgrim,” leaving the listener feeling only a little less depressed than before listening to the album.