For as many good song writers as there are floating around these days, there’s one aspect of music that I often find sorely lacking in newer records. Joy. I don’t mean happy lyrics necessarily, but just a sense of joy in the energy of a record. A sense that even when a band is singing about something sad the music feels like it’s performed with a smile. The latest from The Sidekicks is a simply joyful sounding record. And it’s a great one at that.
Starting off their career in slightly gruffer Hot Water Music influenced territory The Sidekicks quickly moved on to decidedly more melodic turf. Their 2009 LP Weight of Air was met with critical acclaim for its soaring melodies and embrace of complex indie punk structures. Awkward Breeds sees them walking further away from the more traditional elements of their punk roots than ever before, embracing the power pop and occasional alt country leanings that The Weakerthans built their fanbase upon.
Of course that’s not to say these songs sound like Weakerthans songs, so please don’t get that idea. In fact there’s really only one comparison that makes sense for Awkward Breeds, and that’s to Weezer. Not the Weezer of today, pumping out mediocre material with the same “lets see if they’ll still love us after this one” glee as George Lucas, but the one we all wish had continued to exist after Pinkerton. During it’s loudest (“The Whale and Jonah”) and softest (“1940’s Fighter Jet”) moments, this is the kind of smart and soulful power pop songs that launched a thousand bands in the 90s. Only better.
With incredible harmonies, inventive guitar work, and the odd delicate ballad, Awkward Breeds is going to find itself being the soundtrack for many evening walks in the future. There are very few records that make me wish we still lived in an era of cassette mixtapes for friends. At one point or another every single one of these songs made me want to open a fresh pack of Maxell’s to guarantee one of my friends finding their new favorite band on the first track of the b-side. I want to help share this joy. So do me a favor instead. Buy this record. Support this band. After hearing Awkward Breeds I’m positive it’s in all our best interests that they write more albums.