All hail the glorious return of Redd Kross!
Fifteen years after the release of Show World, what many assumed to be their swan song, the McDonald brothers are back with Researching the Blues, their tightest batch of sugar-coated, pop-crunch perfection in their 30 (!!) year careers.
Researching the Blues, out August 7 on Merge Records, is ten lean odes to subjects like Dracula’s daughter, the perils of downtown, and winter doldrums. From the opening rush of the go-for-broke title track that kicks off the record, the band never strays from its patented power-pop-meets-glam sound. But they’ve pulled the essence of everything that made their past records such treats and distilled them into a giddy rush of guitars, snarls, and harmonies. Redd Kross has taken the immediacy of their pop-punk classic Neurotica and mixed it with the overt hooks of Third Eye — and every single song works.
The one-two punch of Researching the Blues and Stay Away from Downtown that kick off the album give you no time to breath. Dracula’s Daughter features swirling “bah-bah-bah” harmonies and a melody subtly reminiscent of Matthew Sweet’s We’re the Same. One of the Good Ones is another blast that makes perfect use of hand-claps to drive home the hook. By the time the records ends with the bouncy, psych-edged Hazel Eyes, you’re already lining up for another dose.
As many great songs as there are on collections like Third Eye and Phaseshifter, I always felt there were moments in those records where the focus drifted. Researching the Blues doesn’t have that problem — it’s easily one of my favorite albums of the year.