Album Review: Redd Kross – Beyond The Door

Beyond The Door

Redd Kross are excellent music quiz fodder: briefly visible in 1993 with the steepling grunge-pop of Jimmy’s Fantasy, the Californians are one alt-hit wonders in the classic sense, their accompanying album Phaseshifter the commercial high-point of a career before and since spent in the long grass.

At the time cynics might have pointed to the whiff of opportunism which the band rode, having been originally formed more than a decade previously by brothers Jeff and a then 12 year old Steve McDonald, but they certainly weren’t the first, or the last, to surf the Cobain-fuelled wave of interest in American counter-culture.

Beyond The Door is only their third album since Phaseshifter and their first in seven years, but time and age continue to be no barrier to the pursuit of happiness, with brother Steve canning their perennial aesthetic into a, ‘total commitment to having the best fucking time we can have while we’re all still here’.

Bucket lists at the ready, opener The Party sets a helter-skelter tone that’s never far from psychedelic garage rock, a vibe principally made up from nostalgic traces of how we imagine the mythical Haight-Astbury scene at its giddy heights. It’s a role they play well, but the brothers are smart enough to realise that no-one needs another tribute band in 2019, honing their sound down to a much keener edge on both the choppy twist of Punk II and ballsy rock n’ roll stomper Jone Hoople.

Not that any are really necessary, but reminders of their ‘veterans just wanna have fun’ manifesto litter Beyond The Door like bits of pasta in a rice dish. There’s No One Like You, for instance, is a tribute to a mortally embarrassed teenager laced with love but a heavy dose of parental sarcasm, while Fantastico Roberto is the theme tune to a film that only seems to exist in the quartet’s private world of lyrical send ups and take downs.

To cap it all off, closer When Do I Get To Sing My Way seems to find the band somewhere between wanting to put in a karaoke rendition of Sinatra or one at the pearly gates, undecided whether that final escalator will go up there or down to the basement.

It’s left however to The Party Underground to set out emphatically why Redd Kross are still a band in 2019 when parenthood and real jobs are the adult options: a celebration of having a bystanders’ view of normality, they make the guitars chime the only way they know how, a cosmic Frankenstein made from the bits and pieces of stuff others choose to leave behind.

They may never come up again in a music quiz, because people cheat at music quizzes these days and it’s no sort of question to ask who released what when the joy of possessing secret knowledge has no value. Redd Kross remain an enjoyable voyage for the few whilst Beyond The Door takes nothing away from their incognito legend.

And that’s enough.


(Andy Peterson)

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