The Stepkids - Troubadour

The Kids’ next step

The Stepkids’ eponymous
2011 debut promised great
things for the Connecticut
psych-pop trio with a wealth of
sun-drenched harmonies and
cute stylistic nods to cult
favourites such as The Free
Design and Fela Kuti. This
second album finds the band
further developing their vision
and creating another stellar
collection of impeccably
crafted melodies.

Featuring a similar merry-go-
round of styles and
influences augmented by prime
musicianship, the musical
focus has shifted forward
a decade or two, with meatier
production abetting a warmer
sound. The Lottery exemplifies
this new direction with the
Steely Dan affectations of its
chorus and complex time
structures characterising a jazz-rock
aesthetic, while Moving
Pictures finds the band acting
out their Prince fantasies with
high-pitched squeals and
ultra-funky guitar. Thankfully,
the three-part harmonies and
irresistible melodies that lit
up the debut remain ever
present, exemplified here on
both Memoirs Of Grey and
Sweet Salvation.

It’s doesn’t all work. Bitter
Bug strikes a bum note with its
self-consciously quirky take on
rock, and there’s the
occasional sense that the
transparency of influences
belie a band yet to find its own
distinctive voice. But when the
music sounds this good, who
cares? 

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Stones Throw | STH 2313 (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Paul Bowler
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