Alternative rock group Rainbow Kitten Surprise (RKS) thrilled fans recently with their release of a new single, “Work Out.” This single is the first new music from the band since 2018.
RKS is known for their complex sound that blends elements of alternative rock and indie folk, and “Work Out” certainly delivers on what makes their music special. The cheerful, folksy melody on the surface level is blended with melodramatic, and at times, heart-wrenching lyrics that make for an engaging listen.
The chorus grapples with the always-difficult emotions of being hurt by a romantic partner with grace and poetry. The lines “well the first cut / was the deepest / but it healed up whole” is beautiful physical imagery of the feeling of being betrayed by a partner for the first time. It’s often inevitable that people hurt one another when they’re romantically linked, and our capacity to forgive and “heal up whole” is strongest after the first time. “Work Out” is a unique portrayal of this kind of hurt; even the low, sustained hum of the instrumental aspect during the chorus is almost symbolic of the constant background ache that accompanies heartbreak.
Despite the clearly-conveyed pain within the chorus, the love that was once there is still acknowledged at the end in the lines “but once upon a time / we were in love.” The juxtaposition of pain and love within the chorus is a great example of the complexity that RKS incorporates into their lyrics; while many break-up songs often only go as far as to bash the partner who “wronged” the artist, “Work Out” avoids doing that and admits the far more complicated truth of most breakups, that they hurt because we loved the person that didn’t love us back in the right way.
The complexity of “Work Out” follows the legacy of other popular RKS songs that are often as big as life itself. Some of their tracks lean more into a folksy, back-woods sound, such as “It’s Called: Freefall,” their most recently trending track, which grapples with acknowledging the darker, imperfect parts of ourselves and letting go of the front we put up for others. “It’s Called: Freefall” features relatively simple instrumental elements throughout most of the song, with some lyrics standing alone without any instrumental backing at all.
“Work Out” falls similarly on the folk-music side with an easy, hummable beat until the bridge, where there is an instrumental build-up until lyrics and backtrack work together to make the listener quite literally feel like they’re falling, much like how the relationship depicted in the song falls apart.
RKS could hardly be classified as “folk” or even “indie folk” music, however, as other elements of their music bring it into another realm entirely. The crescendo that accompanies the bridge in “Work Out” extends beyond the characteristic simplicity of folk music and aligns more closely with the traits of an alternative or indie rock ballad.
Perhaps what makes RKS such a fun listen is the fact their sound doesn’t need to be categorized for the genius of it to be recognized; you don’t need to be a fan of folk or rock to appreciate their work. You simply need to have a love for new and different music.