What The F*** Is Wrong With You?: The Kinks

I started writing this blog post over a week ago and then, like the reason this blog took on a long hiatus, life happened. Multiple sick kids and trips to urgent care along with a crazy busy week at work put this on the back burner. However, with things settling down I'm ready to dig into my first album review that Chris has recommended.

Just to review the rules from Chris's first blog post in this series:

1. It's an album that has influenced or affected one of us in some personal, emotional or culturally significant manner.
2. It as impacted the work of others - either contemporaries or future artists, and that influence is generally acknowledged by listeners/critics worldwide. It doesn't need to a huge seller, either, although that's fine, too.
3. The album doesn't  have to be unknown to the listener, as we would like to think that could be a difficult since we surely know a little about a lot out there, and the listener could even have listened to the album sometime before.
4. It can't  be something the listener has ever had on heavy rotation or has a strong sense of the individual songs on the album- the album may exist in their world but it's more of haze than something concrete.

The Artist: The Kinks
The Album: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
The Listener: Matt
The Presenter: Chris

I'm going to lose some portion of my music nerd membership card, but I honestly don't know much about The Kinks beyond their really famous tracks. I know they are a band composed of two British brothers (Ray and Dave Davies) who don't get along very well but somehow aren't Oasis? Chris definitely has a type when it comes to bands, especially bands composed of two fighting brothers. Bonus points if they're from the UK (sorry Black Crowes).

Track 1: 'The Village Green Preservation Society'

I actually know this song. It's a good one, it's got a nice groove to it. You know how sometimes you can't tell that a band is from the UK because their accents are hidden by their singing voice? Well, that's not an issue with for Ray Davies, he sounds super British. I'm not a huge lyric guy but from one listen I can tell this song is clearly about Disney character and various jams and jellies. Grade: B+

Track 2: 'Do You Remember Walter'

The first five seconds of this song sound like the last part of 'A Day In The Life'. Is that on purpose? The music on this song again is top notch, it's impossible to not bob your head to these first couple of tracks. Grade: B-

Track 3: 'Picture Book'

There is no doubt in my mind that these guys can write the hell out of a pop song. The melodies are really fantastic. The lyrics aren't very deep, but that's okay because if they were it wouldn't fit with the bouncy feel of the music. Looking through old pictures is something just about everyone can identify with. Grade: A-

Track 4: 'Johnny Thunder'

I've heard this one before...I read this track was said to have influenced Pete Townsend and I think it shows through on some of the earlier records from The Who. The album I picked for Chris had mostly 6-8 minutes tracks while almost all of the tracks on this album are under three minutes. It's hard to get all my thoughts down without the next track starting. Grade: B

Track 5 - 'Last of the Steam Powered Trains'

Just when I write about all of the songs being under three minutes, the only song that exceeds four minutes starts. The addition of harmonica and a really good bluesy guitar riff make this one of the more interesting songs so far. If you beefed this song up a little bit it could verge on hard-rock and I certainly dig that. I also really enjoyed the middle where the tempo sped up, it makes me wish the beginning of this album rocked a little more because clearly this band has it in them to do so. Grade: A

Track 6: 'Big Sky'

My first impressions of this album was that it was going to be cutesy brit-pop, but then the last track and this one comes on and blows away my expectations. That guitar riff in 'Big Sky' once again shows that this a rock band at heart that writes catchy pop tunes. Clearly not a one-note album by any means. I'm not a giant fan of talk-singing unless it's Craig Finn or Eddie Argos, but it still doesn't ruin this song for me. Grade: B+

Track 7: 'Sitting By the Riverside'

This song didn't do a whole lot for me...especially following the more rocking two tracks that preceded this one. Grade: C

Track 8: 'Animal Farm'

Something about this track seems much more lush than a lot of the rest the album up to this point. There is definitely a silliness in much of the lyrics and I don't mean that as a criticism by any means, the music albums demands whimsy. Grade: B

Track 9: 'Village Green'

Goddamn these guys are super British. Is this the first track with orchestration behind it? I can't remember any before this. This also seems like the kind of track that is in a Wes Anderson movie. If it hasn't been used already, it should be. Grade B-

Track 10: 'Starstruck'

This is another track that didn't really stand out much to me. It's not bad by any means, it's nice filler in between more interesting songs is all. Grade: C

Track 11: 'Phenomenal Cat'

I'm not great at reading into song meanings, but I'm able to decipher that this song is about a feline that was especially noteworthy. I get an early Pink Floyd vibe from this song....it's definitely the most psychedelic track so far and the sped up vocals are really creepy. The song kind of sticks out like a sore thumb though. Grade C+

Track 12: 'All of My Friends Were There'

The first thirty second of this track made me think it was another throw-away but I really enjoyed the chorus. Grade: B-

Track 13: 'Wicked Annabella'

Oh man, I really dig this songs instantly. It starts out with a nice drumbeat and distorted guitar riff. I really enjoy the feel of these tracks, especially next to some of the lighter stuff. I knew I recognized this song from a nice cover version done by one of my favorites: Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. This song is great. Grade: A-

Track 14: 'Monica'

Although this song doesn't have an edge to it like some of my other favorites, the whole calypso thing is new and I enjoy hearing them step out of their pop comfort zone. I find the album the most interesting when they're doing things I don't expect. Grade: B

Track 15: 'People Take Picture of Each Other'

I'm usually a big fan of closing tracks but this song didn't really stand out much for me. I like the addition of piano and it's another track with a good groove to it. I also like a well placed chorus of a few "La La La's" but other than that I wanted more out of this song. Grade: C

Overall Grade: B

I just realized I gave this album the same grade Chris gave Disintegration. Kind of boring, huh? We need some music hot takes and controversy at some point I suppose, but what do you expect when we're picking "classic" albums for each other to review. Even though Chris and I have strong music tastes that can vary greatly at times, I also think both of us can appreciate good music, even if it's not a genre or style that we're huge fans of.

This album overall is really enjoyable. I found a few of the songs very pedestrian and I'd be curious to listen to the original twelve tracklist the album was originally released with. I find this album most interesting when the band was doing things I didn't expect them to do. I do find it fascinating that this is usually regarded as the bands greatest album, but it doesn't have a single song that most non-Kinks fans would know. I think this was a great pick by Chris and I look forward to coming up with his next album to review.


1 comment:

Chris said...

I think we need to put into the rules that you can pause between songs to write. Real time writing was easier with The Cure than this, like you said.

My favorite quote was "Goddamn, these guys are British."

Which pretty much hits the nail on the head for the theme- a British-ness that many of their other fellow countrymen were leaving behind or not acknowledging as overtly. I thought it would be an interesting review based on how this could contrast with the perception of their bigger hits. I can also see how many people who are die-hard Kinks fans wouldn't put this in their top 3, depending on what kind of Kinks "sound" they want.

Review of review: B+