The Welsh rockers introduce a pop immediacy that could propel them into the mainstream.
Mike Diver 2010-03-26
“This is not the way we planned it.” So reads the first line of this second album from Welsh quintet Kids in Glass Houses. But despite the concession that the future looked radically different during the days before their debut left a considerable dent in the domestic rock scene, this young band can’t be displeased with where they find themselves in 2010. Dirt is poised to take them from support slots with Lostprophets and Paramore to headline performances at the nation’s larger venues.
Produced by Jason Perry – formerly of Old Folks-rockers A and a songwriter for McFly – Dirt takes the well-executed but ultimately generic pop-punk via post-hardcore racket of 2008’s Smart Casual collection and introduces the kind of choruses that will sound incredible when chanted by an arena-sized crowd. While opener Artbreaker I delivers impressively muscular riffs, it’s not long before the group’s more commercially viable influences – The Beach Boys, The Police – bubble to the surface. They’re not channelling these artists in a sound-alike sense, but these Kids have studied well the compositional phrasing of their heroes, the transitions from punchy verses to anthem-in-waiting central motifs. They display a discernable nous for crafting immediately catchy songs as acceptable to mainstream radio listeners as they will be to those schooled on the likes of New Found Glory and Glassjaw.
The latter group provided the band with their name, while long-standing emo-punks New Found Glory contribute guest gang vocals on Maybe Tomorrow. The following track, The Morning Afterlife, is something of a side-step. It’s a slow-burn ballad that, with the guitars turned down a touch, would have sat prettily on Boyzone’s latest. This is not to be read as a minus point, however: so unashamed is this band’s incorporation of pop elements that one can’t flag it as a fault, and so open are they about the mainstream artists that have affected them every bit as much as hardcore acts that the end results don’t feel insincere.
Dirt does feel a little top-heavy, many of its most striking numbers – Sunshine, Lilli Rose (Don Henley for the Green Day market), Matters At All – arriving within the first half-dozen tracks. But the overall progression from record one to two is impressive, and following a Lostprophets model fans can expect album four to be their career landmark. As another highlight sings: “the best is yet to come.”