Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Kidz In Space “On The Road”

Every week, a panel of writers for The Corner will focus on a bunch of recently released local singles and grade them. We call it Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad. We might have borrowed this idea from thesinglesjukebox.com but we love that site and we hope that you like this.

[YouTube / iTunes]

[Grade: 4.0]

Dan Taipua: Car songs are a pop stable that should focus on the following themes: closeness (‘In His Car’), isolation (‘Roadrunner’) or escape (‘Swim Good’). ‘On The Road’ tries to stitch together closeness and escape but falls in some awkward place between the two – there’s no definite thematic stamp, it’s a symptom of attempting to draw from too many sources. The track is a weird mish-mash of Morten Harket or Benjamin Orr vocals and a kind of Midday Juggernaughts synth line with late-The Cars guitar licks. In the absence of the above singers, I honestly believe they should have Dane Rumble on the hook for this. Really.
The rap verses are a collision that I can’t avert my eyes from. “Joined at the hip like fractured bones” fractured things are fractured because they’re not joined, you’re thinking of “fused bones” which is a debilitating medical condition and is not sexy to J G Ballard. “Could you be my rock like Axl Rose?” do you mean Bret Michaels? Dwayne Johnson. ‘Flex Kavanagh’.
Kidz in Space are a great idea, a rap group with modern electro production focussed on pop hits – it’s worked pretty well for Cudi and Chiddy Bang and other people who wear purple streetwear. Even though I don’t this track, I’m bumping it up a few points in anticipation that it will still break the the Top 10. Check back in a few weeks. [5]

Stevie Kaye: ‘On The Road’s’ backing is slightly more subdued/stately than the track’s trappings would initially suggest – while the trebley end of the song (that guitar solo! that chorus!) is slightly over-egged meringue, the pulse draws on the neuromantic/glacial end of 80’s synthpop previously lifted by the likes of the Junior Boys. The bait’n’switch substitution of ‘view’ for girl’ in “All of the beauty in the world / But nothing compares to my…” is a rhyme-dodging fakeout to rival the Human League’s ‘Love Action’, though “baby, we’re hitting the road” seems like a cop-out way to end the chorus. I found the endless summer motifs cheap/clichéd in the Naked and Famous’ ‘Young Blood’, and this treads dangerously close to that – I think they just manage to stay balanced on the tightrope this time. [7]

Fraser Austin: Rumblelectro! Pretty but simple, for good and for bad. Kinda of a shame the chorus isn’t like super emotionally strong, pitch fixing kinda harhes a good emotional outpouring. Personally I like the sentiment, they are now punching out of their class though, it sounds like a demo. The guitar should be slamming like an awkward make-out session in car backseat. The chorus vocals should either commit to being neglected or aim for that part of the throat you get in movies where someone does something cool but you don’t want to start crying ’cause your girl will think you are a wuss. Pretty good preset-electro hip hop track, but doesn’t get better with multiple listens. Walking in the preset-shoes of Goodnight Nurse / Dane Rumble / who is that band, umm a low hum, ummm oh yeah Over The Atlantic those guys too… hence …. [4]

Maryann Savage: This song is what would happen if Dave Dobbyn — at the age he is now, not when he was a normal person in the 70’s — disguised himself as a teenager. (The singer sounds like Cliff Richard, which is kind of cute!) I don’t even dare to talk about the rapping. It would be like bullying one of the boys in my old high school English class in Orewa. [2]

Hussein Moses: Josh Fountain might be one of NZ’s best unknown pop producers. Anyone hear what he did with Dats The Crux’s ‘Confetti’? Perfection. But Kidz In Space have always felt like they needed slightly more direction. On Chasing Hayley, their mash of influences (pop, hip-hop, rock) didn’t always fit. ‘Cupids Got A Shotgun’ had an Alice In Chains shtick to it but on ‘Ocean Of Drugs’ and ‘Downtime’ there was a darker element to their pop routine, one where their sound was slightly paranoid, but so accessible. I’ve always felt like they could’ve been a simple pop radio band, at least to establish themselves a proper audience and cash in on Fountain’s ability. ‘On The Road’ is probably their first real attempt at that, but it falls short. Sort of Mike Posner-ish and far to indebted to current top 40 trends. What’s so endearing about Kidz In Space isn’t that they can do this stuff so easily, it’s that they have the space to do so much more. [6]

Kim Gruschow: At first I thought they were pulling a poor mans Naked and Famous (good grief!) then the rap started up. It’s painful stuff really, every line delivered in the same simple slow with the last syllable duh. Any sincerity that may have emerged through from banal lyricism is ridiculed by the absurd effects joyrides. [2]

Matthew McAuley: Ehhhhhh. Nope. I loved the first EP and thought ‘Ghost’ was pretty cool, but for me this is a serious misstep. The “for me” is important, because this is going to be huge. Oh god the epic midi-guitar solo just started. Guys, come on. That’s not a real guitar. I’ve used Garageband too. It just faded out, and I’ve gone from ambivalent to STRONGLY OPPOSED within the space of three minutes. I hope it’s only up from here. [2]

9 Comments

  1. Jeremy(PRAM BLOG NZ) says:

    Oi. Fraser Austin. You got any demo’s? Id like to make some overly negative reviews on every track . Seriously… What’s with all the negative reviews man?

    I admit, I am a MASSIVE Kidz In Space fan but I like their other stuff a bit more than this, not to say this is a bad song but, I think they should stick to tracks like Dancefloor, Downtime and so on… Not to mention, the video for this almost made me angry because most of it was SO shit! They Key “sequence” was awesome and the grading was pretty damn fine too… Apart from that… It was shit.

  2. Noodle says:

    This track is just awful, and the panel’s done a good job of detailing why. Once again Dan Taipua’s review is a million times more entertaining than the song in question.

  3. i read pretty much every review you guys post here. the reviewers are pretty much the epitome of yr hierarchical elitist, mini-pyramid (its nz). its getting worse too… by that i mean boring.

    • Duncan says:

      I like how you read every review even though they’re boring you. Life must be off the chain. You should fully check out Blogger Bites Back!!!

    • matthew says:

      yeah u just kinda epitomised the problem u described, shame.

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