If buying a Kadane/Kadane record were comparable to buying a car, you could pretty much rest assured you were getting a quality piece. The song writing is well crafted and, for the most part, solidly constructed. Or to extend the car metaphor, the songs don't come with a lot of extraneous garbage which need preening; it's all elemental (although, almost inexplicably, a couple of songs do introduce minor new elements, like acoustic guitar and even piano, I think).
There are more than a handful of songs here which would feel at home on a Bedhead record: "Disease," for instnace, crushes you with every note, and "18" is more evidence of intricate guitar work made to sound pretty simple, as is "Sinking Ship" just a good song.
The greatest departure, I think, is that the new material doesn't always pummel you in the ways which Bedhead songs did. The more upbeat passages work to homogenize the sound, and the audible vocals work against The New Year, making them come across like some kind of marginal indie rock outfit, when Bedhead seemed to transcend genre and eschew easy labels. Check out the song "Stranger to Kindness" as an example. This is clearly the worst song they've ever written, with an embarassing virtuous rant, and a horrible string arrangement at the end, evocative of total crappiness.
What's redeemable, though, is that with the audible vocal approach, you can sometimes hear subtle references to other songs, and that's dope. In "Disease" for instance, there is this imagery of "trees" which can be heard elsewhere in Bedhead songs, and "Plan B" becomes a companion piece for "Simple Life" on the "Newness Ends" record.
Another thing I like which I don't see many bands experimenting with is the package design. And while you couldn't really claim that the text or simplicity of the design is anything new, which it is not (a lot like the actual music, for better or worse), the sleeve which the CD comes in, as with the "Newness Ends" record, seems to protect the jewel case and further delay any "oldness" of the cd. Check out the subtext in reference to the titles of these two records.
So, all in all, this is really good stuff for people who remain categorically depressed, following in the tradition of Bedhead. I'm down with that.