Review Summary: Kidcrash compose themselves.
A band's second full-length usually spurs two lines of debate. The first is how the band progressed between albums, and the second is how the follow-up compares to the debut. Jokes was such a frenetic, messy aural explosion which both challenged and rewarded the listener that it was some sort of minor emo breakthrough. It seemed like the band had so much to say that they couldn't stay on the same beat, note or phrase for more than a second. It also sounded like Buster was trying to demolish his drum set, the bassist was using his instrument as a battering ram, and the two guitarists were having a knife fight trying to get each player's ideas out the quickest. With this established and expectations that the production would improve on their next album; to say that Snacks was doomed seems to be an understatement. Kidcrash however more than prove their merit and have delivered a fantastic album.
Snacks finds itself slightly more composed and reassured overall. While Jokes seemed like a unified burst of energy from the whole band, Snacks seems to settle into grooves and flesh out ideas a little more. This is not to say that the songs are cohesive, Kidcrash still seem to mash contrasting ideas into song structures and make them work, sometimes messily. Each song on this album is more aerated than we are used to hearing from Kidcrash. For example, the album has a more mid-tempo feel than their previous work, and this allows some space for each player to work in. The guitar lines are looser, the bass more melodic, and the drumming less frantic and more solid. I found myself bobbing my head to a couple songs and realized that Kidcrash had settled into a groove, and then laughed at the idea. The production is much better as well, you can hear each distinct sound and the highs don't blend like they did on Jokes. One of the highlights of the album for me is that the guitar parts are so well thought out and written in a complimentary fashion. Their layered sound is still intact, but is much more pleasant to listen to this time around. This is most apparent on the album's closer, "Sleeper Wave," which builds steadily through guitar interplay and huge dynamic shifts, crashing at the end like the title implies. The interplay is so good each part feels completely natural, even though they are both tonally and rhythmically different.
The effect of all of this is that each song's impact is somewhat deadened, requiring more attention for each listen and less "Holy ***!" moments. This is the main fault of the album for me. I was underwhelmed during the first listen as I wasn't grabbed and shaken like I'm used to from this band. The urgency and chaos is tempered, which was one of Kidcrash's defining characteristics. Their jazzy tendencies and interesting shifts will always keep them relevant in the emo scene, but their in-your-face nature was always what put them over the edge for me. Also, because of the lack of cohesiveness of the songs on this album, each song tends to run together for me. There are moments that make the songs identifiable, but as a whole the noodling and off tempo hits can get monotonous. As weird as the idea of chaotic monotony is...
With all of that said I really love this album. Jokes felt like an explosion, or a "*** You!" to anyone who they felt had held them back on their first release "New Ruins" (although I don't count it), while Snacks seems like them taking a breath after breaking out of something. Each player seems to be flexing their muscles and that can only mean good things for the future. Jokes was like a butterfly breaking out of the cocoon, and Snacks is the butterfly flapping blood into it's wings before it can fly. I can only hope that Kidcrash will continue to progress and change their sound, because if they do they will remain one of the most exciting emo bands around.