|Redd Kross - 'Researching The Blues' (Merge Records)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Monday, 16 July 2012 04:00|
I was a bit wary finally getting hold of a copy of this album. I have been so looking forward to it and I didn't want it to disappoint me as several big hitters have this year. It's not that some recent albums have been bad, more that some have just sounded so downright average. Redd Kross don't do average, they have created two of my favourite albums ever - 'Third Eye' and 'Phaseshifter' are both in my top albums of all time list - so how can 'Researching the Blues' possibly compare?
It's been way too long since a new Redd Kross album has graced my stereo: in the mid nineties they were up there with The Wildhearts and the Manics as my essential listening. I, like many around me, shed a tear when they seemingly called it a day after the 'Show World' tour in 1997, and following the death of guitarist Eddie Kurdziel in 1999 it seemed a new Redd Kross album would never happen.
However, never say never power pop fans coz Redd Kross are back after 15 years and it's like they have never been away, this album makes me smile like it's 1994 again. Back with the line up that recorded the 'Neurotica' album the hopes are high for some classic power pop to soothe our souls and our hearts - can the McDonald brothers possibly deliver one of the albums of the year? Read on people...read on....
Having already heard the title track released via their facebook page recently expectations are high, but I know full well that one good song does not a great album make (that's a proverb you know!). How many times have you been lulled into a false sense of security by a great song only to be majorly disappointed by the album? Too many times is my guess.
'Researching The Blues' gets things off to a rollicking start and it's clear the brothers have lost none of their abilities at crafting perfect three and a half minute pop tunes. Jeff Mcdonald's vocal delivery is as good as it ever was, it's a fuzzed out and frantic song with some tasty wah-wah guitar going on, and yeah I sure do like it.
Any worries I had are blown away and forgotten by second song 'Stay Away From Downtown', sounding immediate and catchy it puts a smile on my face and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up from the first god-damn listen, what was I worried about? Sounding like it's lifted straight out of the 'Phaseshifter' sessions this is Redd Kross at their finest. Featuring a chorus to die for it nods its head to '60s pop, with infectious melodies and sublime backing vocals, I swear I've heard it before and I know I will be playing it again...a lot. The jangly guitars and beautiful melodies of 'Choose To Play' and 'Meet Frankenstein' carry on the '60s pop vibe, and only enhance the power pop perfection. Indie drum beats are prevalent in The Wonderstuff tinged 'One Of The Good Ones' and the pure garage rock of 'Uglier' with its classic sounding vibe comes on like a '70s cartoon theme tune with crashing effects and a nifty wah-wah solo.
'Researching The Blues' is closer in feel to 'Phaseshifter' than any other of their albums, and feels like the natural follow up, not as jangly and beautifully lazy as 'Third Eye' and definitely not as polished as 'Show World'. Yet they embrace their influences, ultimately these songs sound instant, it's like they have always been in my head, seductive melodies that will not go away. Steven Mcdonald's production is spot on, the mix of vintage gear and sweet sugar coated harmonies make for a timeless sounding album that could've been recorded at any point in the last 40 years.
If you ever saw them performing 'Visionary' live on The Word, that's all I see in my mind when listening to this album. Jeff grinning like a cheshire cat looking like he would not want to be anywhere else in the world, and that's the vibe I get here. This is the sound of a band loving their craft and I hope they are back for good.
I seem to recall they once proclaimed themselves The Monkees of the Nineties, and they sure inject some much needed colour into these grey times. There have been some great albums released already this year, now add this one to the list. I'm glad to say Redd Kross have made the comeback album I hoped they would, the mix of '60s garage rock, the early Beatles vibe, sublime pop hooks and punk attitude makes this a welcome return and one of the essential albums of the year.
To pick up your copy of 'Researching The Blues' - CLICK HERE