Album Reviews

1990s – Kicks

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 23 March 2009


Harken to me, for I am the ghost of Indie past! I have come back to haunt you, to remind you of the time you mis-spent pogo-ing in the Student Union and of all those alcopops you drank while dancing sweatily to The Charlatans until two am. I am 1990s!

Dickensian metaphors aside, there has never been a more appropriate name for a band; 1990s evoke an age of bygone indie and Kicks is unashamed alternative pop with enough touches of retro glam, grunge and guitars to trigger a few Bacardi Breezer flashbacks in the most hardened listener.

If nothing else, listening to the album is an enjoyable game of ‘Spot the Influences’ – Vondel Park kicks off the album with some Ian McCulloch and Win Butler-esque vocals, however after a few tracks 59 heralds a change in direction and The Stooges-influenced swagger begins to subside in favour of beginning to sound a little like an Ash tribute band. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it throws away a lot of the album’s promise and ultimately makes for an uneven listen.

The undeniable problem with the album lies with the unimaginative lyrics, which sound like someone randomly sticking a pin in a rhyming dictionary. It’s easy enough to sing along with after a few Snakebite Blacks, but I dare you not to wince when the otherwise fine glam-infused track In A Box is shattered by the line “back in your box/ because that’s the place I keep my pants and socks”.

Where the album does do well is that it’s certainly energetic, confident, fast paced and has an ear for a good melody. But all energies aside, it can’t escape from the fact that there’s nothing new on offer here. It’s unfair to ask every Scottish guitar band to be Franz Ferdinand or Glasvegas, but there’s no harm in trying to stand out from the crowd and capture some imagination.

1990s have not made a bad album, but like the decade itself Kicks never lives up to its promise and contains too many derivative and unmemorable moments. It’s simple and inoffensive, cookie-cutter alternative pop for Topshop-clad skinny teens or those of you who have worn out your copy of Intergalactic Sonic 7s- Those of you looking for something more modern will probably need to seek your kicks somewhere else.


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