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Askew Review 15

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- Kick In  (Monolyth) The second release from this Boston-based quartet, Kick In is a dense work of overdriven pop-rock that attempts and often succeeds at being a "total package," of knockout delivery coupled with full-bodied multi-layered studio work.  While sometimes lacking in lyrical prowess, the band makes up for this by impressive two, three, and sometimes four part harmonies.  Of course this brings up obvious Beatles comparisons, but the Pills draw more from the tradition of American rock music, particularly from some of the bigger names of the 70s and 80s.  Except for the obvious chord progression lifted from early 90s hit "Right Here Right Now," on "Down With the Beautiful," the Pills effectively synthesize rather than steal the ideas of their progenitors. While the arrangements of songs like "Crawlin' Outta My Skin," (complete with an intimidating brass section) have not been widely heard in music for nearly fifteen years, the Pills deserve some credit though, as they have crafted their own sound combining the passion of the Rock A Teens with the harmonic sense and song-writing skills of scores of other bands. More than just a compendium of references, this record reveals the breadth and depth of the Pills' unwavering pop sensibility.  Their high energy, positive outlook, and unpretentious yet carefully honed style is becoming increasingly unique as more indie bands kick the rock habit in exchange for experimentation.  When you hear the closing ballad "Dictionary," you may wonder what happened to popular music that this band isn't a fixture in the top 40.  Refusing to comply with the post-everything geek-chic relaxed attitude of their fellow melody-driven peers (e.g. Weezer, Pavement), the Pills instead try their damndest to put on a show.  That energy has transferred over very well to Kick In.  Few albums since Isolation Drills have contributed substantially to what is becoming a dying breed of skilled pop-infused rock n' roll.  The Pills can now add their name to this list, as perhaps the most "professional" bar-band in music today.  Tightly packed melodic hooks, brash pitch-perfect vocals, and an army of back-up and guest instrumentalists make Kick In a delight for fans of mainstream American rock music.- Ryan McKay           




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