Album Review: Redd Kross' 'Researching the Blues'

Photo by Jon Krop.

It’s been 15 years since Redd Kross last released an album, but the California rockers have never sounded fresher than they do on “Researching the Blues” (Merge). The band’s first album since “Show World” in 1997 features 10 full-throttle new songs packed with spiky guitars, pounding beats and piles of catchy melodic hooks. In fact, “punk” barely begins to describe what’s going on here. “Researching the Blues” owes as much to the Beatles and Cheap Trick as to Black Flag or the Sex Pistols, and the band has a bubblegum-pop sensibility befitting musicians who share a hometown with the Beach Boys.

Standout “Stay Away from Downtown” rides an abrasive riff through cascades of vocal harmonies, “Meet Frankenstein” shows that punks aren’t immune to a John-and-Paul-pop tutorial and the wistfully punchy “Winter Blues” sounds designed to chase them away. If 15 years seems like a long interval between albums, well, it is. But if that’s what it takes to end up with a record as effortlessly engaging as “Researching the Blues,” it’s hardly worth complaining about the wait.

— Eric R. Danton



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