In the past decade or so, we witnessed a surge of reunions, particularly of bands that meant something in the seventies and the eighties. Some of the bands just tour, perhaps make a live album and try to relive the past without changing much. Others make new records. Often times the motive is to draw larger crowds to the gigs than each band member would individually, or perhaps these bands simply want to go back to the youthful years. In any case, reunions are typically in shadows of the famous past. Exceptions to the rules are scarce. I can only think of Mission of Burma and their reunion album On Off On which is as great as anything they did before, if not better, more mature and stronger piece. Now we have a new example in Redd Kross.
Redd Kross formed in the days of LA punk surge, in the late ’70s. The early years were chaotic, but we remember well their ferocious first album Born Innocent, an all cover album Teen Babes From Monsanto and they contribution to the legendary low budget punk movie Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.
The nineties see Redd Kross riding the grunge wave on a major label, although their sound was decidedly power pop and bubblegum. The big show business wasn’t nice to them and they disbanded in 1997. We would occasionally hear about Redd Kross through the years, through their playful website and pioneering work in podcasting.
But, as we said in the first paragraph, they reformed this year. The new line up is some ways the classic Redd Kross – the two McDonald brothers (Jeff and Steven), Roy McDonald (no relation) and Robert Hecker. They were the line up in the late 80s, during the Neurotica period. But, as we hinted, this reunion is not your typical reunion. The new album just bursts with energy, humor, great songs and harmonies.
Let’s face it, Redd Kross albums, well other than the first two, are slightly overproduced. Especially the nineties output. It was possibly their desire to penetrate into the radio market. This new record is crisp and raw, energetic attack to your hi-fi system. There are no tricks, frills nor polishes. Yet, everything is perfectly optimized. The length clocks out just about over thirty minutes, which just leaves you for wanting more and the only option is to repeat the record. This is sort of an effect so rarely seen on today’s records.
The songwriting is flawless. There’s a lot of humor through the horror imagery (Dracula, Frankenstein). The sounds are lighthearted, and just slightly ironic. The harmonies are gorgeous, and I have a feeling that the band worked very closely on arranging them so perfectly. At the same time, the whole deal appears to be effortless. A lot reviews around bring comparisons to Cheap Trick, but what’s funny about this album is that it’s greater and more fun even in comparison to the classic Cheap Trick recordings!
Unexpectedly, the album that’s most fun in years comes from a band that reunited. This puts Redd Kross in a very special place in the history of rock music.
First published on rockxs.com.