Ever wonder what first-wave bands make of their style’s subsequent revivals long after their initial aesthetic falls into vogue? The (almost egregiously) quirky Acid House Kings have been making sprightly, wide-eyed twee pop for 20 years now, sticking to their childlike guns throughout; releasing a karaoke album, crafting a compilation called The Sound Of Summer – and watched slowly as people moved on to new bands and new scenes.
However now, in 2011, the world has seen a small Slumerland-pop revival, and Acid House Kings are once again in perfect stride with new colleagues. Music Sounds Better With You is the group’s fifth record, and if public perception has changed, the band hasn’t budged one bit.
It’s hard to go into explicit detail on Music Sounds Better With You, simply because of how happily delightful it is. There’s little going on beyond the surface; a charmed, 30 minute pop record about romance, comprised of ventilated guitars, crystalline glockenspiel taps, pregnant strings, all weightless of emotion and dense with hip-swinging sweetness. But that malleability cuts to the core of what makes the music so absorbing – the immersive, undemanding grace.
It’s hard to write meaningful tongue-in-cheek twee these days, and the weariness of their lifelong experiences as a band seems like it would truncate creativity – but they couldn’t sound more in love with their music. The essence Music Sounds Better With You is very youthful. Some of the songs, like Winshield or the sing-along ready (I’m In) a Chorus Line sound like nursery rhymes given a concentrated dose of instrumental work. Other times they simply write about the same problems they’ve had since the early ’90s (Are We Lovers or Are We Friends.) It’s hard to tell if Music Sounds Better With You is the result of some nostalgic retrospection for the dizzy love of pubescent relationships, or if they’re writing songs for kids of their own now – but it mainly feels like the band had 10 pretty songs lying around the studio and felt like making another album. It comes off so casual, but in the best way possible.
As most of us know, Music Sounds Bette For You is also the name of a house anthem put out by Stardust, which is now considered to be the chrysalis of Daft Punk, in the middle of the ’90s. The pulsing electro-funk grooves of Thomas Bangalter and the hammy swoon of Benjamin Diamond don’t necessarily pair with the songs Acid House Kings write, but at their core they aren’t all that different. Both are silly, somewhat self-aware, incredibly hedonistic, and have a high potential to cause ear damage if played too loud for too long; but above all, they both aim to please more than anything else. Their captivating low-rent amity is hard to resist, and harder to deny. It’s just a constant invitation for a good time, not unlike acid house music.