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?