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1990s: Kicks




Album: Kicks
Label: Rough Trade

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Franz Ferdinand sparked a post-punk glamfest in 2004, but the group has just added unnecessary gloss onto each album since. Spared by fame and expectations, its Scottish peers in 1990s (frontman Jackie McKeown used to be in a band with Franz Ferdinand’s drummer) take the sound to looser territory on their sophomore album. Kicks retains the self-aware, tongue-in-cheek pop dazzle, but further fuses the energetic silliness with broad, catchy melodies. Like The Dandy Warhols in their prime—or The Libertines anytime—1990s propel their danceable clash of sarcasm and sleaze with bright harmonies and simple choruses. They complement the raw sassiness with lyrics about women, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, all blasted out of a convertible in southern California. (“Everybody Please Relax” is actually a direct ode to L.A.) As such, 1990s break out some sparkly guitars, especially on “The Kids”; with new bassist Dino Bardot adding vocals, the group layers in a lot of laid-back chanting to slick effect on “59.” The rest of the remarkably memorable Kicks is similarly raw, tight, and funky. 1990s have kept Scottish glam-punk fun, not forced.