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Kitchens Of Distinction – Folly

It’s somehow like time’s stood still. The first time I saw Kitchens Of Distinction was at Reading Festival on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1991 (headliners: Sisters Of Mercy ). They didn’t exactly dazzle me, to be honest, their performance feeling more like a rehearsal than a main-stage blockbuster. Back in 1991 I found their music somehow angular and anti-melodic. Things have changed dramatically in the years since then – I decided one day during the late 90s to dig out their 1990 opus ‘Strange Free World’, which at that point was sitting amid a pile of CDs for many years, kind of unloved. Listening to it was a revelation. Prior to that I’d always really liked the lead single ‘Drive That Fast’, having been initially introduced to it by Michael Ade , the assistant engineer who worked on the album, who at the time was producing a number of tracks for my own band. However, years later, the album suddenly seemed to take on a whole new meaning and felt like jigsaw pieces finally coming together. Maybe that’s what time does. Remember that back in 1991, music was a mixture of grunge, shoegaze and Madchester – and Kitchens Of Distinction really didn’t slot neatly into any of these categories at all.

That’s not really to say that Kitchens Of Distinction fit into any kind of current category either, not that I’m looking to pigeonhole them. Their music’s still angular, dark, detached. In fact, it feels like they’ve not been gone at all – it’s almost like all the music which has happened since their original demise in 1996 has simply not registered in their psyche. When music’s this good, I really don’t blame them. The risk with making a comeback album some 19 years after their previous album is that it somehow damages the legacy, but I’m delighted to report that Folly simply underlines how good a band they are.

‘Oak Tree’ reminds me of just how good Kitchens are, both as songwriters and performers. The acoustic guitar and piano intro initially lead me to think that Kitchens’ sound has mellowed. However, when the drums and electric guitar kick in just a short while later, it’s immediately evident that they’ve lost none of their power and propensity. In fact, by my reckoning Folly is worth paying the asking price for this track alone. If ‘Oak Tree’ is special, ‘Extravagance’ is a career-defining mission statement. The guitars are truly unique in a way which only Kitchens Of Distinction can deliver. While I remember them being compared to bands such as The Chameleons and Cocteau Twins in the 90s, their sound is actually more angular, helped in part by vocalist Patrick Fitzgerald ‘s snarling delivery.

‘Disappeared’ continues a trio of superb tracks. It’s not until the dreamy ‘Photographing Rain’ when the album slows and mellows slightly. The haunting ‘No Longer Elastic’ could almost appear in a West End show about ghosts!! The overall sound of the album has a lovely feel. The really strong start mellows out somewhere around the centre but things pick up, particularly with the lovely ‘I Wish It Would Snow’ (sample lyric: “they’d close the roads, so I couldn’t go and we could stay in bed all day” ).

Well, it’s been a long time waiting, but I for one am absolutely delighted that Kitchens Of Distinction are back – and they return with an album which delivers on a number of levels. Fans of their previous work will find much to cherish here and I for one am about to hit ‘play’ for the umpteenth time…

~Folly is released 14th October 2013 on 3 Loop Music .~

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