I really hate when I buy the latest release from a band and it sounds very similar, too similar, to the past release. As for those of you who have recently purchased The Kick’s Hello Hong Kong you may know what I am talking about. There is just something familiar, unusually recognizable about these songs. Oh wait, I know what it is—nine of the twelve songs were previously released on The Kicks’ self-titled album back in 2002. Long time fans of the band are also aware that the same nine songs were released on Radio by the band Ashtray Babyhead. Before opting for the more consumer friendly moniker The Kicks were known as Ashtray Babyhead. Although re-releasing material is common when signing to a new record label, it is still a big disappointment for fans still waiting for something new.
For those of you who haven’t heard previous releases by The Kicks, Hello Hong Kong is a great introduction. The Kicks are a pop-punk quartet from Little Rock that sound like a marriage between Better Than Ezra and Coheed & Cambria. In case that only confuses your idea of the sound, keep reading and maybe the rest of this article will clear that up. They are a talented band and write fun music. None of the songs are over four minutes and most are under three, leaving no time for monotony. In my opinion, the shorter the songs the better; they are quick and likable summer tunes.
The first track “Radar” makes for a good start to Hello Hong Kong. It is an immediately catchy sing-along with easy to remember lyrics while “Twelve Steps” sounds like it was written listening to U2’s Joshua Tree, boasting some beautifully simple guitar work. Singer Scott Cook has a competent clean-toned voice but lacks an identifiable style and/or sound of his own. Though his singing slant isn’t spectacular, he does have a knack for writing simply congenial lyrics in songs like “Radar” and “Jet.” I actually did appreciate Cook’s one attempt at vocal variance with “Pretty One.” He takes note from singers like Glenn Danzig or Kim Nekroman, who sing in a deeper, resonant tone. Hello Hong Kong also ends on a good note with “Jet.” It progresses well with heavy power chords not heard in the earlier tracks. The upbeat ending leaves a good impression for the entire CD.
Although my opening to The Kicks new release was not really flattering, it is actually a good CD. If you are a new fan of the band it is definitely worth a listen. The Kicks are a group with experience in crafting exciting, catchy pop tunes; an exercise evident on Hello Hong Kong where they have created perfect pop melodies for the sunny summer months.