The All American Rejects reject themselves with Kids In The Street
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:04
The All American Rejects took a little time off from writing at the turn of the decade to reevaluate their direction. They toured with Blink 182 and played the Warped Tour, and in the mean time focused on writing and recording for their fourth studio album. Lead singer and bassist Tyson Ritter and guitarist Nick Wheeler went to various secluded locations to focus on the writing process. They wanted to take the band in a new direction, and experiment with different sounds not heard on prior TAAR releases.
While the band has changed immensely with each release, Kids In The Street is without a doubt their biggest departure to date. From their humble, indie-pop sound to the huge, pop-rock sound on their more recent albums, TAAR have traded in both for a more produced sound. Producer Greg Wells, who has worked with Adele, manned the soundboard for Kids In The Street, and the multiple layers on each track often times bring the tracks to life.
Kids In The Street starts off with a raw, grungy and loud track, “Someday’s Gone,” but it bleeds into a soft, muted chord that repeats. The track trudges along at a mid-tempo pace, but eventually fades into an explosive chorus. Ditching the verse-chorus-verse structure, TAAR craft an exciting and luring opening track by not giving it all away in the first 30 seconds, allowing the track to grow.
Lead single “Beekeeper’s Daughter” has a Steve Miller feel, with the wah-wah guitar, whistling and horn section make the track an absolute studio masterpiece. It’s a perfect meshing of old and new: that is, familiar TAAR pop hooks and tongue-in-cheek yet cutesy lyrics (“You’re a pretty little flower, and I’m a busy little bee”) incorporating the 1960s and ‘70s with echoing horns and a rhythmic solo and backbeat. Throwing many different styles into a track can bog it down, but Wells kept all instruments balanced, manufacturing a pop gem.
Working their way up the decades in influences, Kids In The Street takes a turn for the 1980s, with tracks like “Fast & Slow” and “Kids In The Street” that are largely synthesizer led, and lack the same fury that their predecessors had.
The harmonic guitar takes a backseat to the drum-pad and keyboard, while “Walk Over Me” takes a different, arena-rock ‘80s sound. With loud, echoing drums and guitar that fits more in style with the beginning of the album with a hint of 1990s punk rock, it still varies enough to be a truly original track. The Queen-esque, organ-led bridge shows even deeper production for the band, and caps off a splendid rocker ballad.
“Bleed Into Your Soul” seems to sort of tread throughout, as it has a soft backbeat and whispered lyrics that in spite of being almost yelled at the end, the music’s energy isn’t there to match. The strings on “Affection” are beautifully directed, and as the track bursts into a frenzy of guitar and drums, it feels as if it’s a totally different song. But as the track ends on a soft note, listeners are reminded that it’s just a subtle tempo change that could not have been executed better.
There are hints of punk, rock, glam and retro-pop present all throughout Kids In The Street, yet some tracks seem to stagnate heavily on specific influences rather than blending all of the influences into one track. The songs that do mesh different sounds and tempos are slickly produced and executed, but some tracks could have benefited from less of one influence, and more of a balance that some other tracks possess.
Kids In The Street had potential to be a genre-bending, well-produced masterpiece, but instead, it is shimmers of excellence among some tracks that could have benefited from more diverse sounds which have prevented them from stagnating.