Music Reviews
Redd Kross

Redd Kross

Self-Titled Double Album

In the Red

As middle schoolers who suddenly emerged on the California hardcore scene of the early 1980s, at the time, it could have been easy to dismiss the McDonald brothers as some form of temporal novelty act, but minor shares of stamina and major shares of talent and skill have secured Redd Kross a prominent place in music history.

With their new self-titled double album and first release in seven years, Redd Kross brings nearly a half century to bear on a career-defining release. Out of the gate, neo-psychedelic “Candy Coloured Catastrophe” and “Stunt Queen” are hard-hitting bass-driven, un-ignorable, power-pop ballads that ensure they have your attention for what is coming next.

From “The Main Attraction,” things take an effectively more melodic turn for the remaining 16 tracks. Each song is a potential parable, seemingly taking more thematically folk cues. Redd Kross finishes with the “chef’s kiss” of “Born Innocent,” which is so accurately and distinctively apropos for a band looking back on a lifetime of music.

Aside from the harmonies and the oft Lennon-like flutter to Jeff McDonald’s vocals, Redd Kross has taken the absolute best lessons from Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds and delivered something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Each song has its own epic-ness, but a complete one-hour listen has a cinematic congruency that just breezes by.

Every track has a “hook,” and the production value is along the lines of something produced by Todd Rundgren at his best (minus the baggage). Every note rings clear as a bell full of dedication, urgency, and sincerity. Redd Kross carves a fine and distinctive line between earnestness and a well-honed sardonic wit.

Redd Kross has managed to lay claim to their own musical legacy that could’ve gotten lost in the shuffle of post-punk, post-radio, post-grunge, and post-physical-media dominance. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “There are no second acts in American lives, (notes on The Last Tycoon, 1940)” but they may have just delivered their third and seem more than ready to move on to a fourth and then some.

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