The Kicks

    Hello Hong Kong


    I had quite the surreal night recently. It involved Eve 6 and a lot of alcohol. You remember Eve 6, with that hit “Beautiful Oblivion” or something like that five or six years ago. I guess Stanford University is where one-hit wonders go to die; earlier in the day they headlined some half-baked spring festival on campus. Even worse, I guess my house is where one-hit wonders go to rot, since by 5 a.m. the band was still hanging around on my lower floor, playing bad acoustic covers in a haze of cigarette and pot smoke.


    “Naw, man, I can’t do that song,” one of them said as he handled a guitar. “Playing an ‘F’ hurts my fingers.”

    And hell, I can remember actually buying these guys’ CD back when it first came out. Jesus, did I think they were cool? Yes, somehow in my 15-year-old warped mind, I had had the crazy opinion that Eve 6 was an alright group of guys.

    So it goes with the Kicks, one more incredibly derivative-sounding band helping to saturate what is already a desolate wasteland full of false-hearted emo-punk-pop numbskulls. Yeah, if I was still at that age when facial hair felt like a distant future, I might really like the Kicks’ sophomore album, Hello Hong Kong. I might ignore the fact that the Kicks sound like a knock-off of the already imitative Fountains of Wayne (with a little Foo Fighters, for minimal variation). I might ignore the fact that Idlewild had nearly this same sound four years ago, but with better songs and some invaluable Scottish charm. I might ignore that fact that the majority of songs on Hello Hong Kong are actually major-label-produced versions of pieces from their 2002 eponymous debut. I might even ignore how utterly uninteresting some of the Kicks’ music is.

    But as a grizzled, grumpy old college student, I worry how easy it could be for me to ignore some of the awesome hooks in the Kicks’ music. Even as they make failed stabs at finding that distinct Weezer sound, some amazingly catchy sounds somehow snake their way onto Hello Hong Kong. Songs like “Mir” and “12 Steps” pull together some deadly choruses that latch onto the skull quite easily. No matter how retarded you know you sound singing “Cosmonaut! Cosmonaut! Cosmonaut! Whoa-oh, I wanna be an astronaut whoa-oh!,” it all can be quite fun at times.

    I guess that’s what the Kicks come down to: a guilty pleasure. You certainly bob your head to the music at times, but hell will freeze over before you call the band anything but shitty. So, hipsters and indie snobs of the world, don’t give the Kicks too hard a time; they’re not that bad. They’re more like a night with Eve 6. You’ll tell your friends how much those guys sucked and how it seemed like they’d never leave your house, but in the end, you have to admit that it was pretty fun.