Review: Kids in Glass Houses – Dirt

Welsh band Kids in Glass Houses have always veered more towards the pop end of the pop-punk spectrum, and on Dirt, the quintet’s second full-length album, this is more the case than ever. Tracks like “The Best is Yet to Come” and “For Better or Hearse” are sugary sweet and catchy as hell, with lyrics that aren’t especially deep but brilliantly appropriate for the subject matter and music that’s almost impossible to resist. There are some twists of creativity, such as the brass section on “For Better or Hearse”, however generally the style is one that’s been done before, but which remains good fun nonetheless. This accessibility clearly has one eye on attracting mainstream audiences, and Frankie Sandford of pop group The Saturdays brings her voice to “Undercover Lover” to further help their assimilation but in truth this track is fairly mediocre. It’s catchy, but it’s also shallow and eventually is little more than an inoffensive but uninteresting mainstream pop song. Kids in Glass Houses also take several opportunities to slow it down on this album, something they’ve never really attempted to do before, and again the results vary. From the resonatingly powerful “Sunshine” through the pretty good “The Morning Afterlife” to the dull and dreary “Giving Up”, Dirt offers up both the very best and very worst of the pitfalls and pinnacles of writing a ‘pop’ record.

Thankfully though, Kids in Glass Houses are determined to make an attempt to cling on to their punk side by the skin of their teeth despite the mainstream inclinations. New Found Glory bring their seal of approval to the album with a guest spot on “Maybe Tomorrow” and, although truthfully it’s almost impossible to spot if you’re not listening for it, the track certainly has a stronger edge to it than many of the others, and is all the better for it. This also the case on numbers like “Artbreaker I”, “Artbreaker II” and “Hunt the Haunted” which show that, although they might be able to write a catchy tune, Kids in Glass Houses are far superior when they add a bit more depth to the disposable pop songs. Peculiarly however, the finest track on offer on Dirt is the curveball thrown up on “Matters At All” which is neither especially poppy or particularly punky. It feels more like a stadium rock number, with a huge chorus and snappy verses; it’s truly a belter of a song which suggests that the quintet are capable of moving past the ‘pop-punk’ tag to become an established rock band in their own right.

Right now however, Dirt is hit and miss. To be fair it features far more hits than misses, and the misses are generally only off target by the smallest amount. Even the worst songs are still perfectly listenable and at least on a par with the bevvy of pop punk bands littering the scene right now, and the better songs are right up there with the best the genre has to offer. The variety of the tracks is also commendable, as even the assault on the mainstream hasn’t forced the album into being a collection of cookie cutter pop numbers. Dirt is an interesting album with numerous excellent songs which only suffers a little from a lack of creativity in areas and some fairly basic lyrics. It may be the sound of a band trying to perfect their ideal sound, but as far as experimentation goes this is right up their with the best of them.

Final verdict: 8/10

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