A chart-ready set that should see its makers hit new commercial heights.
Mike Diver 2011-08-10
With their third studio set, arriving just 16 months after their second, Kids in Glass Houses have completed their evolution from youthful punks worthy of keeping an eye/ear on to bona-fide mainstream successes. The Welsh quintet’s previous two LPs – 2008’s Smart Casual and 2010’s Dirt – each charted inside the domestic top 30, and In Gold Blood is the sort of hook-laden collection of hum-along pop-rockers that’s surely destined to peak far higher. It’s unrelenting in its inclusive appeal, never making proceedings tough for the listener; every chorus is designed to be belted out at maximum volume, every riff sparkles like a brilliant dawn over a horizon-filling sea.
What In Gold Blood is not is an album with teeth – any bite felt on past collections has been replaced with a big, wet kiss on the lips. It’s that sort of album, a snog for the lugholes, a disc that rewards repeat spins not with unheard nuances but catchy motifs and holler-along lyrics that sing of empowerment and striving to fulfil one’s ambitions. It’s an incredibly appealing approach, with any moping for loves lost (etc) dressed up in the finest threads, so as to disguise heartache as the blossoming of amour anew. It’s a one-dimensional shtick, sure – but nailed with such precision that it’s impossible not to tap a toe or 10 along with these teenage-kicks anthems.
Produced by ex-A man Jason Perry – he also manned the desk on Dirt – there’s a healthy level of variety on a theme across In Gold Blood; while the overall tone remains upbeat, the album’s 11 tracks flowing finely, the arrangements flex to allow for brass interjections and more. Horns on three tracks – Fire, The Florist and Only the Brave Die Free – never lead to a ska-punk vibe, mercifully, instead fleshing the core of guitar, bass and drums into a fuller-sounding (and warmer-sounding) mix that punches above the weight of many a pop-rocking peer. Animals is an effort that Kasabian would be proud to call their own, a monster riff dominating proceedings while female backing vocals give the piece a real old-school Stones/Led Zep undercurrent; and lead single Gold Blood comes on like the best Hundred Reasons number that never was (ie, it’s a bit brilliant). Diamond Days, meanwhile, is another example of this band’s affection for the 80s output of Don Henley (hear also: Lilli Rose, from Dirt). Unlike their last album, In Gold Blood doesn’t fade in its final third – closer A God to Many Devils is every bit as strong as this set’s zesty opener.
Occasionally it’s okay that originality takes a hike for an album. This is one such case of energy and enthusiasm, not to mention almighty chart-ready choruses, being more than enough to deliver a fully satisfying experience. Lostprophets et al, quit looking over your shoulders – Kids in Glass Houses have just overtaken you.