Kids in Glass Houses’ fourth album is a strange one for me. I enjoyed their first release, ‘Smart Casual’, and I stomached sophomore attempt ‘Dirt’, but ‘In Gold Blood’ – which saw the Welsh pop-punk heroes become, for lack of a better term, a ‘rock’ band – was something else entirely. It was darker, it was edgier, it wasn’t over-produced and it packed a real punch. It was a departure from their more easy-going, pop-influenced style but it was a welcome one, and with it Kids in Glass Houses put out one of the most underrated albums of recent years.
But it’s successor ‘Peace’ isn’t what I expected. It seemed to me that, with their last album, something just fell in to place. That the thrashing guitars and the energy-driven songwriting would be a staple of their musical style for years to come. But, if anything, ‘Peace’ is more similar to 2010’s ‘Dirt’. I find it hard to talk about an album objectively, without referring to past works or to the type of sound that a band is known for, because in truth you can’t listen to an album by a band that you like without taking these things in to account. But, for the most part, I’d like to look at ‘Peace’ as a standalone album, because there are many things that it does well.
‘Peace’, from start-to-finish, is a summer album. It’s the kind of record that you’d like to listen to on a beach with a few beers, a few good friends, and not a care in the world, making the title very appropriate in describing the overall vibe of the album. It’s very radio-friendly, and some of its songs sound like a throwback to cheesy eighties and nineties pop songs (complete with clap-along choruses and gang vocals). The slower, more measured songs on the record fare better than the rest, with ‘Novacaine’ and ‘Runaways’ being particular standout tracks, with the former carrying a dance-worthy chorus and the latter channeling a My-Chemical-Romance-Danger-Days energy. ‘Black Cloud’, too, is a standout: fun, catchy, with a big chorus that’s just a sing-along waiting to happen.
In it’s own right, ‘Peace’ is a good album. I wouldn’t call it a ‘great’ album, but for what it is it’s certainly well worth a listen. I hope that my own prejudices where this band are concerned don’t make this review sounds too negative since, as I’ve said before, there is a lot to be praised on this album. But it is my fear that Kids in Glass Houses set the bar too high with ‘In Gold Blood’, and that consequently ‘Peace’ will feel more of a step back than anything else. But it isn’t. It’s a good album. It’s a return to their pop-punk roots, and it should be appreciated for what it is. No, it isn’t ‘In Gold Blood’ v2.0, but it is, without a doubt, a Kids in Glass Houses album.