Summer is here. We should be blasting something that welcomes the season, that celebrates youth, vitality and sleeping late. The Deathray Davies would love to make that record. They want you passing people on Route 95 with your girlfriend’s hair blowing out the passenger-side window, they want you sitting on your front porch with a beer and nothing to do, and they want you to do it all with their record on. And we’re sympathetic. We want these things too. But The Kick and the Snare, the Davies’ fifth, is not that record. While there are a few sunspots, it suffers from a dearth of ideas and an over-abundance of lead-singer John Dufilho’s bratty yelp.
Eleven inconsequential songs of major chords and minor wisdom do not a lasting record make. Instead, “The Fall Fashions” and “Chainsaw” ‘s cartoonish murder fantasies seem stuck somewhere in pimply adolescence, and the whine Dufilho employs throughout the disc is strictly 15-year-old male — more concerned with the glories of stealing dad’s car than anything else. Not that great rock records need to drench themselves in universal truths, but pre-puberty is certainly not part of the equation. The Davies sound hackneyed, employing garden-variety rock riffs because someone told them the Kinks and the Ramones are the only bands that ever mattered.
Of course, even hacks get it right sometimes. Over a mindlessly gorgeous two-chord melody, “In Circles” nails those awkward moments after the taxi pulls up, the clothes are packed, and there’s nothing you can say to make her stay. And “Plan to Stay Awake” (a perfect choice for the first single) is a Ritalin-rush of a song — a turbulent stomp through sleepless nights and fuck-all grit.
But alas, those are the only tracks that do the season justice. Even with the entire live band contributing to these tunes, so much of The Kick sounds like parent-approved rock stripped of its claws. Rock for fifteen-year-olds — or thirty-year-olds who wish they had a bedtime.