Album Review: More Kicks – Punch Drunk

UK garage rock trio More Kicks burst onto the scene in 2017, winning over audiences with their power pop melodies and lively, guitar-driven songs. On their latest album Punch Drunk, the group may just get you intoxicated on their spirited, gritty Britpop nuggets.

“Still pining for the good old days” singer James Sullivan croons on “Rest of Our Lives”, and based on the sounds the band gravitates towards, it’s clear these days they are pining for were the seventies and eighties. It’s hard not to hear the seventies in the punk-inflected songwriting on tracks like the peppy “Hurts Like Hell”, or harmonious, power pop gang vocals on “In Love”, with its sweet melodies over jagged riffs. Where More Kicks one-ups their influences is in their lyrical prowess, dropping in thesaurus lines like “You oscillate to laziness” alongside heavy realizations (“My heart is a grave I guess”).

More Kicks

The robotic bass riffs on “Animal” are not too far off from “My Sharona”, though you’ll find more depth here than in that eighties bop (“I’m half the man it took to make you smile. And I can’t pretend its changing for a while”). And one might even hear a little nineties in the riveting, Oasis-style vocals and jangly guitar solo on “Terminal Love”.

The band is definitely at their best when mixing ferocious energy with cotton candy sweetness. This is on display in “Come Home”, with its rocket drumming and call/response vocals on the chorus that would be a perfect soundtrack to strutting down the streets of London with your mates. Even better is “Colour Me Stupified”, a sunny, lovelorn gem that openly wears its traces of Big Star and The Replacements while still being completely owned by these British lads.

The group slow down with mixed results. “Got Lucky” still packs an opulent of riches in its lyrics (“It’s not a crime to resist growing old” charts high), but melodically it doesn’t hold onto the same level of emotion or hooks as its sped-up forbears. The stripped back “Phoney Middle Aged Art” is a pleasant little tune that only goes awry during the falsetto, while closer “Goodnight Goodnight” is probably the best of the toned-down tracks for its first half, before it kicks up a noise-rock ruckus to finish things off.

Then again, if the band only jetted through rollicking punk tunes, they would possibly “breathless for the rest of our lives”, so no criticism to them for mixing things up. And on the contemplative “Rest of Our Lives”, they find a good happy medium .

The album is out now on Dirtnap Records. Take a listen to it here!

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