Maybe Ponce de León should’ve stopped by Merge Records to find the Fountain of Youth. With Redd Kross’ Researching the Blues — the band’s first record in 15 years — Merge has once again helped to revitalize a band nearly forgotten.
Researching the Blues is a blast. Redd Kross blow through 10 songs in 30 minutes and it never once sounds forced. If the band felt any pressure to make a successful come back, it doesn’t sound like it. It sounds youthful and carefree.
The album opens at its heaviest with the title track. The crunchy guitars and an exhilarating chorus hit hard making sure that the listener is paying attention as Redd Kross dives into the best track on Researching the Blues next.
No other song on this record melds the band’s sense of melody and need to rock better than “Stay Away From Downtown.” It’s relentless, but the chorus — with big guitar chords helping enunciate the lyric “downtown” — is impossible to resist.
With the way Researching the Blues starts, it surprises some listeners when Redd Kross takes its foot off the gas for much of the album’s last two thirds. “Dracula’s Daughter” replaces the big riffs with big harmonies and plenty of “Ba ba baaas.”
Throughout the album, Redd Kross sound completely unburdened. The feeling is infectious, making Researching the Blues a great soundtrack to help maximize the fun in the final few weeks of summer.
Researching the Blues is out August 7 on Merge Records.