Saturday, November 16, 2019
More Kicks - self titled
More Kicks knocked out this album in just two days, recording everything live to tape. Sometimes I ponder what sort of wizardry is involved in making a power pop record sound so, uh, powerful. In this particular instance, I would say it was a case of a tight band coming as close as possible to its live sound. It's a real treat to have a full album of Sulli songs, and his songwriting style becomes clearly defined here. He really excels at writing songs that sound upbeat but frequently prove to be bitter and hilariously savage if you're paying close attention. Combine that with his knack for turning three-minute pop songs into fully-rounded stories, and you can definitely view Sulli as a songwriter from the Ray Davies/Elvis Costello lineage. Of course it's great fun when he's cleverly scathing ("She's A Reaction" and "Rock n Roll Again" are top-notch), but he also excels at turning that brutal honestly inward. "Blame It On The Satellite" is a brilliant reflection on taking personal responsibility for your own failures. "Ain't That Just The Way" is that rare break-up song that's honestly self-aware.
While I won't quite deign to employ the old "this sounds like a greatest hits record!" cliche, I will say that this debut from More Kicks is remarkably strong all the way to the end. You've clearly got a lot of confidence in your material if you can save "the hit" for the track nine position! Heck, it might be the penultimate cut "Young Enough" that boasts the best hook on the entire record. Three of the 7" tracks were re-recorded for this release, and with good reason. It's hard to imagine a More Kicks album that didn't include "On The Brink" (how devastating are those lyrics?!) and "It's A Drag" (the best song the Buzzcocks never wrote). I love some of the little touches too. The keyboards on "She's A Reaction" give a fun, party vibe to what might otherwise have been a downer song. And I'm absolutely loving the Gary Numan knockoff/homage bass line on "What You Thinking". As a power pop fan, I'd be hard-pressed to find a record more satisfying than this one. This is one of the 2019's best LPs, and that's saying a lot considering what a phenomenal year this has been for music. How soon before Kris Hood is drumming for every great band?