Review Revue: Kitchens of Distinction – Strange Free World

London’s Kitchens of Distinction, like so many bands championed by KCMU, were a promising and critically acclaimed band in the late ’80s and ’90s that never quite broke as big as they might have hoped, but have maintained a devoted following over the years. Last year, almost two decades after breaking up, the band reformed to release Folly, which seems to have pleased fans and critics, while perhaps not doing much to bring them to a wider audience, alas.

Although the band hasn’t toured to the States on Folly, they did do a remote KEXP session with our own DJ El Toro, which I was lucky enough to hear on the air while driving in Ballard last November. El Toro definitely seems to be a member of that devoted KOD fan base; he was audibly thrilled to host such a special performance. Singer Patrick Fitzgerald has posted the recordings from this session on Youtube; here’s the live version of “Oak Tree,” from the new album.

Strange Free World, the band’s second album (and first to be released on A&M in the US), seems to have had a mixed reception at the station. I have yet to “put the needle down” for myself, but as someone who has no problem with Modern English, David Bowie, or Echo and the Bunnymen, I will certainly be checking it out today.

“Weather Theater with production, money. Early ’80s Modern English. Gloomy gus Brit art school stuff. For people who grew up on Bowie I think.”

“Much more akin to Echo + the Bunnymen than Modern English, but who cares – this is very good, even if derivative.”

“Sterile pap. The Modern English comparison is right on. And I loved their last record.”

“Well, I didn’t grow up on Bowie and I like this just fine. Pop that’s just a tiny bit overstuffed. The Modern English reference is particularly unjustified. Put the needle down and enjoy yourself, for pity’s sake.”

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