3 out of 5
Label: Yep Roc Records
Produced by: Simple Kid
This is undoubtedly a better album than Simple Kid’s debut – it’s more layered, more intimate, riskier – but, eh, it’s not as catchy, and catchiness being what really appealed to me on album one… SK2 has never ended up doing much for me. Which certainly makes me a dumb dumb of a reviewer, but I like what I like, right? yaaaaay
Simple Kid (Ciaran McFeely) seems aware that head-bobbing beats and catchy riffs drove much of the attention-grabbing of his previous release, as the sequel kicks off with some suspiciously familiar uses of electro drums and tweaked guitars as basis for layers and layers of strumming and harmonized, multi-tracked vocals. But even these feel different: album one had the artist infusing these beats and riffs with a lot of extra zest; here, they seem almost incidental, just noise surrounding McFeely and his guitar. Now, as noted, I’m pretty dumb, so I never quite gleaned on the common T.Rex comparisons before, but I get it here, alongside a rather Elliott Smith-y pared down vibe once Simple Kid has done his “catchy” due diligence on the first few tracks. This suggests, maybe, something a little more direct in the delivery, and that is the case: the liner notes are from a frustrated-but-trying would-be star, and the lyrics don’t come with as much of the shoulder-shrug smirk of 1. There’s more going on in the sense that McFeely allows the sound to have a lot of rough edges and noise, but it’s also, emotionally, more dialed in. On Simple Kid 1, I heard songs, and on Simple Kid 2, I hear the artist.
And smarter critics would consider that a better thing. Me, though, it just don’t get stuck in my head the same.