The Steinbecks - Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks

matcd069  /  April 2014
The Steinbecks - Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks
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The Steinbecks - Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks

matcd069  /  April 2014

Highly anticipated new album from Australian pop disciples The Steinbecks, the band led by former Sugargliders Josh and Joel Meadows.

The Steinbecks emerged from the ashes of The Sugargliders after the ’gliders released ten 7” singles on legendary pop labels Sarah Records in England and Summershine Records in Australia. The Meadows brothers write emotionally honest pop songs about the world as they experience it, and record them with multi-instrumentalists Matt Sigley (Earthmen, Daytime Frequency), Joseph Bromley, and Jerry Rinse.

‘Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks’ is the band’s first album since ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ in 2007 and features 12 new recordings that deliver an especially dynamic listening experience.

The album opens with ‘Homesickness’—a blast of pure guitar pop that is at the same time unsettling due to its odd timing. The lyrics chart the yearning for a place/moment/thing that cannot be recovered: “And we ask, why does this light seem wrong? And where’s the shiver in that song? And whence the soul for which mine longs?”

‘At Arkaroo Rock’ was released as a 7” single in mid-2013. The lushest track on the album, it features Smiths-like guitars chiming and jangling, plus percussive flourishes that will warm the hearts of Style Council, Aztec Camera, and Belle & Sebastian fans. The single was described by one erudite reviewer as “displaying a dizzying level of exquisiteness.”

Over a searing electric guitar riff that is the backbone of ‘We Cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colours’, Joel contemplates the fabric of the universe as he examines a tiny grain of sand: “inside which is everything and nothing / inside which is the DNA of stars…”

‘Below the Limen’ has a touch of 'Abbey Road' or 'Odessey & Oracle' with its intricate bassline and whirring Vox Continental organ. Even the words could have come from the late ’60s, as the ’becks urge the listener to explore subliminal thoughts and re-connect with the natural world.

The album’s most fragile three minutes come in ‘Semblance of Hope’, during which Joel breathes a sigh of relief over his narrow escape from suburbia (“you could have taken my best years”) and in falsetto begs his sweetheart to “stay with me and watch while the sun sets its gold at the hillside”. A slow, sparse, stunning ballad.

Part list song, part social commentary, part soapbox rant, ‘I, Radio’ is ultimately a passionate love song to the wireless. Joel talks/sings/shouts about his childhood experiences of the radio, the thrill of Top 40, the discovery of underground radio, and the bands that changed his life.

‘Cold Little Bones’ is all woody and organic—mandolin, double bass, melodica and unaffected vocals tread the twisted pathways the mind wanders while waiting too long for someone to come home.

‘Trying To Be Someone’, written by drummer Bromley, is a driving pop song that wouldn’t have been out of place on the classic 'Meat is Murder' album from The Smiths. As electric guitars jangle, then riff, then nearly spiral out of control, Josh sings of isolation, rejection, and the search for identity and authenticity.

On ‘Through the Curtain’ Matt Sigley weaves an irresistible bassline and Joel has a go at Flamenco guitar playing, as he used to on occasion in The Sugargliders. The song’s message? When romance lets you down you can always fall back on the romance of music.

‘Burning Holes in the Sun’ features Matt Sigley and Jerry Rinse locking into a bass and drum groove that nods to Neu!, but Joel’s guitar solo owes more to Ace Frehley than indie influences. Meanwhile, Josh agonises over “watching Bathsheba and catching fear”. Somehow it all comes together in a tight, infectious, memorable track.

‘Burning Holes (reprise)’ takes some of the same lyrics from the previous song, but sets them to a completely different piece of music. The listener is transported to an after-midnight ’60s club where the band has settled into a slow groove and a Spanish guitarist is lazily riffing from the stage.

The title track and album closer, ‘Kick to Kick’ is the Meadows brothers’ tribute to a complicated, much-loved cousin, who died too young and left a lasting impression. It’s electric guitar pop in the vein of the Lemonheads, Blake Babies and Teenage Fanclub.

Housed in a handsome gatefold eco-wallet, ‘Kick to Kick’ is a very welcome return for The Steinbecks and an absolute score for the Matinée discography.

  1. Homesickness
  2. At Arkaroo Rock
  3. We Cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colours
  4. Below The Limen
  5. Semblance Of Hope
  6. I, Radio
  7. Cold Little Bones
  8. Trying To Be Someone
  9. Through The Curtain
  10. Burning Holes In The Sun
  11. Burning Holes (reprise)
  12. Kick to Kick


Shaking off their winter torpor, blackbirds hustle for new worms in the morning dew. Daffodils emerge, seduced by vernal sunlight. The borders throng with swooping cabbage white. All the signs of springtime - a smirking Chancellor, supermarket aisles crammed with emulsified chocolate eggs, solid lines forming above the relegation places - are present and correct. But still, we are restless. Where the blazes, we ask, is that new Steinbecks album? At last the day comes and, shaking off our own winter torpor, we unburden the CD of its shrink-wrapping. It doesn't disappoint. We knew it wouldn't, on the back of their honeygorgeous "At Arkaroo Rock" 7" (which set all this heart-beats-wildly expectation running last summer) and the equally assured "Through The Curtain", a further LP preview via the more recent “Sunday Matinée” label sampler. What’s interesting, though, is that much of "Kick To Kick" is more urgent, more plaintive than those two tasters. Many of the songs are more in the man-overboard vein of 7" closer "Cabin Fever", although the record also showcases the ripples and swells of their pristine eco-balladry, as well as throwing in a couple of ardent, unapologetic celebrations of the music the Meadows brothers love and grew up with. It begins with "Homesickness", uptempo and melodic, a tale of longing for our plundered earth which artfully scuttles over lost haunts and missing moments before "At Arkaroo Rock" returns to gently soothe us with geology (and with a short but super-sweet twisting guitar line embellishment that was cruelly faded from the single version). It’s followed by "We Cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colours" - a renewed blast of fiery indiepop, a vivid vision of wide-eyed wonder – and then "Below The Limen", a lithe and louche blues-rock deconstruction which shuffles in sideways as the band start, stylistically, to spread their wings. The pared-down side to the Steinbecks comes to the fore with "A Semblance of Hope" and the mandolin-led "Cold Little Bones": these tracks are sparse and aching and spare, charting moths and rust and no little mournfulness. However, sandwiched inbetween them on the running order, the sparkling "I, Radio" is anything but stripped-back; zestful and thrillingly ALIVE, it may be the finest ode to the wireless since "Transmission", a triumphant tribute to radio; to vinyl; to the human ear. Anchored in both spoken word and evangelical shout, "Radio" is their "Endless Art". (Ever more dimly, we recall our own hazy weeks spent in Australia, and much as it was frustrating that commercial radio felt able to completely ignore its nation’s finest bands, it was at least a joy to hear "Streets Of Your Town" appear every couple of days, as if by way of special concession the payola kings would allow just one slice of dark, homespun pop to sneak the B-list. The irony, of course, is that given free rein "I, Radio" would sound perfect coming out of summer speakers on Albert Park, would vaporise every cobweb and every unmelted heart within audible range). The second half of the album meanders ‘twixt autumn hues and dazzling sunburst just as adeptly as the first. As well as "Through The Curtain", with its super-danceable coda invoking artists from Faron Young to the Field Mice, you'll find the spry and upbeat "Trying To Be Someone" - which proves it’s no coincidence that the Smiths get referenced in two tracks here - and "Burning Holes In The Sun", so good it gets two outings: the first spiked and aflame, the second trillingly mellow and absolutely, almost violently, pretty. The winning goal, however, comes from a set-piece: the title track, the final cut. "Kick To Kick", set at a funeral service for a friend, is warm and wonderful and moving without ever being less than 100% tuneful & brisk. And, just as on the first song on the album, some late-on lightly-deployed piano draws out slivers of extra atmosphere. Twenty years ago, their "At Home And Abroad With The Steinbecks" début needed to be stickered with a label saying "features ex-Sugargliders". Whilst the Steinbecks have hardly been prolific since then (when their last album, "Far From the Madding Crowd", came out, people were still wondering whether Spain would ever win a football tournament in the modern era) in 2014 there’s surely no doubt that they've hewn their own, distinctly impressive canon, one that stands apart from all that we know and so surely love of their former incarnation. Robert Forster used to bemoan how Australia was ever in the midst of rock n'roll and garage rock revivals, making it no place for literate and intelligent pop. That might help to explain why the Steinbecks have sometimes been more feted in enclaves of the UK and the US (not least Bristol and Santa Barbara!) than on home soil. Indeed, the closest the Steinbecks have got to that clichéd yet venerated Aussie rock tradition has probably been the repeated exhortation on their album sleeves to "PLAY LOUD". Instead, as we remarked of their "Recorded Music Salon" outing (forgive us our turn of the century lower-case): “they still continue to try and refine the fine songwriting tradition which australia has spawned over the last decade or two; one which does not start and finish with forster / maclennan but also takes in the greater moments of everyone from the triffids to girl of the world, the lucksmiths or the cannanes.” For us, that’s what the brothers and their current collaborators Jerry Rinse, Joseph Bromley and Matt Sigley, are still doing. As an aside – oh, how we love asides - the fact that we were teenagers when Josh and Joel were teenagers, and that we gingerly contemplate an approaching middle-age as they, more gracefully, age with us, probably helps: it certainly provides a clue as to why we find ourselves excitedly cheering Joel on during "I, Radio", whereas more youthful listeners might regard its sentiment as a tad Luddite. Um... yes, of course, we reckon you’ll enjoy “Kick To Kick” if you savour the Smiths, Orange Juice, and the Go-Betweens; or the Butterflies of Love or the Lucksmiths; or indeed that band called the Sugargliders. But ultimately, you're *guaranteed* to like it if you're a fan - as you should be by now - of Castlemaine’s finest, the Steinbecks themselves. The boys make no great claims for their art - "Beat my little drum, please / if you don’t, no-one will", they sing on “At Arkaroo Rock” – yet we’re not sure it’s right for us to make grand claims for them, lest that betray the way the often-understated glories within these grooves speak so eloquently for themselves. Suffice to say that we just really, really, love this record.   --In Love With These Times, In Spite Of These Times
“We’ve got all the tunes, honey,” brags a line from The Steinbecks’ first album in seven years. It’s not the band’s own tunes being boasted of, but rather a record collection that will hold you up when a breakup knocks you back. Name-checking The Cure, Pavement, The Smiths and many more in a spoken-word breakdown, ‘Through the Curtain’ also squeezes in cracked vocals, jazzy drums and the Aztec Camera-style flamenco guitar licks echoing Josh and Joel Meadows’ prior band, early-’90s Sarah Records favourites The Sugargliders. It’s one of several songs here gushing about music itself. Dedicated to the Meadowses’ late cousin, the closing ‘Kick to Kick’ is about music as a means of bonding, even in death. The single ‘I, Radio’, meanwhile, bottles the sheer infectiousness of hearing, loving and spreading new music, teeming with over-the-top first-person enthusiasm and tracing a personal path of discovery from the mainstream to the underground to talk radio as one ages. The references fly fast, spanning beloved acts (Jonathan Richman, The Moles, R.E.M., Billy Bragg) and a pointed jab at Triple J, and the song even breaks down the physics of the listening experience, from the needle on the vinyl to the radio transmission to the cochlea. Of course, it’s also a radio-friendly pop gem in its own right. Such earnestness can grate in some bands, but the Meadowses have always wielded it well. While their songs aren’t saccharine they are sincere, with a fondness for romantic imagery. The album’s very opening is a kind of pop-song postcard: “I saw two lovers farewell on the platform/Arms and lips displacing words today.” And yet the song is about a lost moment that can’t be had again, rather than sighing over the dreamy perfection of the thing. Try to recreate something like that and it’s never exactly as we remember it. That song, ‘Homesickness’, should still appeal to Sugargliders fans, but it immediately shows the difference between the Meadowses’ two bands: besides being built to last in comparison to the quite fleeting Sugargliders, The Steinbecks tend towards scrappy power-pop more than the tender purity of the former band. They’re constantly playful too, free to take risks and have obvious fun making a record. After all, with seven years having elapsed since Far from the Madding Crowd, The Steinbecks needn’t worry about catering to some clamouring audience. Self-recording in Melbourne and their regional bases of Castlemaine and Kyneton, they’re just happy to bash about, try a few new things, stay away from too much polish and see if anyone is up for having a listen. You can hear that no-pressure air in the Kraut-y groove and surprise falsetto of ‘Burning Holes in the Sun’, its peaceful reprise immediately after, the garage-roughened ‘We Cannot Hope to Compete with Such Colours’, the stop-start organ and twang of ‘Blow the Limen’ and the Smiths-indebted ‘Trying to be Someone’, the latter penned by part-time drummer Joseph Bromley. Much like the way they cycle through their record collections for unabashed inspiration, the band – including bassist/keyboardist Matthew Sigley and principal drummer Jerry Rinse – run with any idea that appeals to them. Still, within all that variety, lovers of The Lucksmiths, Darren Hanlon and the whole Candle Records canon will especially warm to the sparse ukulele strains of ‘Semblance of Hope’ and the poetic lyrics, delicate whisper and overlapping harmonies of the standout ‘Cold Little Bones’. Everything comes together best on last year’s single ‘At Arkaroo Rock’, a gorgeous ballad inspired by the titular landmark in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges that’s home to ancient cave paintings. It’s about accepting one’s brief flicker in time when faced with something eternal by comparison: “Decades measure my time/Here it’s centuries.” Likewise, The Steinbecks may measure their time in albums – as opposed to The Sugargliders, who only released 7”s – but the Meadowses don’t take their newer band’s longevity for granted. After so long between albums, they sound pleased to have any time in front of however many people turn up to hear them. And whoever does end up discovering this record – fans new or old – the take-home here is that after decades of playing together, Josh and Joel Meadows haven’t lost their giddy enthusiasm for music. For making it, discovering it and saluting it in the hallowed space of a pop song.   --Mess + Noise
They've kept us hanging on, that's for sure. 'Kick To Kick...' is The Steinbecks' first album in seven years, but to be fair to them, Josh and Joel Meadows have delivered a lot of material since forming The Sugargliders back in 1989. Their second band has far outlived their first, but there's still a spirit of youth to the music they make, an also a healthy dose of nostalgia. 'I, Radio' acts as something of a centrepiece, being the longest, and one of the strongest songs here. The lyrics talk of the joys of radio and discovering music at a very young age via shortwave stations and the bands that first sparked their interest: The Cars, The Police, John Cougar Mellencamp... and then articulating quite beautifully the wonders that were found by playing around with the dial and stumbling upon independent stations that shunned playlists and major labels, introducing a whole new world of sound: Jonathan Richman, The Field Mice, The Chills, REM and more. These are the bands that would go on to influence their own tunes, and the passion in the vocals for both radio and music is as evident and strong now as it was then. It's not the only time that The Steinbecks glance back and give props their musical heroes; Pavement, Suede, The Cure, The Smiths and others are referenced on 'Through The Curtain' with a cry of “we've got all the tunes, honey!”. This album doesn't find the band living in the bubble of a John Peel radio show though. Maybe 'I, Radio' or 'Trying To Be Someone' could fall into that category, but that's no bad thing. The music is largely in the style you'd expect, but it sounds modern, not a contrived attempt to sound like they've just fallen off the back of a C86 tape. Take 'Below The Limen'; sure it has a hint of indiepop, but also takes in '90s alt-rock and a twist of '60s psych too. It's one of many highlights. Another stand-out is the driving 'Burning Holes In The Sun' which borrows a little from post-punk and a little from more modern guitar bands (it could even be a Supergrass cover); the title-track brings in some harmonies and buzzing guitar which makes it difficult not to think of early Teenage Fanclub. 'Kick To Kick...' is unmistakably Australian, with the strong accents never disguised in the way that some bands choose to do, but what should be singled out for praise the most is the strength of the songwriting. These are expertly-crafted indie tracks with a deft attention to detail that makes it all seem too easy. The contrast between the slower comeback single 'At Arkaroo Rock', the instant drum snap of more upbeat opener 'Homesickness' (aptly containing the line “it's said that absence makes the heart grow fonder”) and grittier, more obvious single choice 'We cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colours' which sit either side of it show us from the off that they don't plan on picking an idea and sticking to it. The tender and brittle 'Semblance Of Hope' brings another shade to proceedings and is quite beautiful and heartfelt with it; 'Cold Little Bones' is very much in the same vein and equally endearing. It's good to have them back and in such fine fettle.   --Sounds XP
The Steinbecks’ ‘Kick To Kick’ is by far the punchiest album of the year. In fact, its inventive rhythms and creative time signatures give even its most dolorous tracks an undeniable buoyancy. Their first effort since 2007′s ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’, ‘Kick To Kick’ is a spry affair, filled with sneaky pop gems that get catchier with each successive listen. Fronted by Josh and Joel Meadows, The Steinbecks are a crafty outfit that know how to get in your head. “Homesickness” and “We Cannot Hope To Compete With Such Colors” demonstrate the Australian band’s pop smarts while the spare “Semblance of Hope” and the mandolin-flecked “Cold, Little Bones” are wrenching meditations played with finesse and heart. Elsewhere, “At Arkaroo Rock” is pastoral pop that brings to mind the later work of the Trashcan Sinatras; “Burning Holes In The Sun” boasts a big, dark groove and “I, Radio” is a diaristic look back at the discovery of underground radio that namechecks everyone from Billy Bragg to The Chills.   --Caught In The Carousel
It’s half a lifetime away, or at least so it seems, since Josh and Joel Meadows first began making ripples on the indie pop scene on labels such as the much lauded Sarah Records as The Sugargliders. The spirit of that has lived on through The Steinbecks, sporadically releasing material since then, and outliving their previous incarnation by some considerable distance. Their first album in seven years, ‘Kick to Kick’ demonstrates why the band are still loved; quirky, twisting melodies, bookish lyrics, an amalgamation of styles from ramshackle indie through perfect pop to moments of pure punk, things that separated them from some of their former label mates right back in 1989. All delivered in their unmistakably Australian lilt. The album opens with the stuttering ‘Homesickness’, sounding like something somewhere between Nick Lowe and The Wedding Present, constantly starting and stopping, almost post punk, but then throwing in this curveball of a dreamy, flute led ending section. Follow on ‘At Arkaroo Rock’ shows the band on more expected territory, the gentle, wistful indie pop shimmering throughout as the band reflect on love lost, and a sense of space that infects the whole record. ‘We cannot hope to compete with such colours’ follows on in similar vein, its effortlessly dreamy melody all wrapped up in this delicious summery indie pop. It’s joined, albeit later on the album, by ‘Trying to be Someone’, and ‘Burning Holes in The Sun’. Elsewhere on the album, there’s a mixture of slower, blues and folk I fused tracks, such as ‘Below the Limen’, almost Traffic like at some points, with these frankly lovely splashes of organ, and the heartbreaking stutter of ‘Semblance of Hope’. The Steinbecks have once again produced an album which is unexpected, almost shambling and ultimately loveable with ‘Kick To Kick’. In fact the title track and album finisher sums it up, as DIY slacker as the rest of the album, and as enjoyable as a track you’ll hear this year. There’s half a lifetime of songwriting in ‘Kick To Kick’. That counts for a lot, as ‘Kick to Kick’ testifies.   --Backseat Mafia
Josh and Joel Meadows have been treasured members of Australia's guitar pop scene for a few decades, first as The Sugargliders, and now at the central figures in The Steinbecks. But despite the passage of time, their music still is fresh, full of youthful vigor and wide-eyed acceptance of the world. As to be expected, there is some nostalgia and a bit of regret here and there. But these fellows aren't mopes. However, more than anything else, the set of songs comprising The Steinbecks' new LP Kick to Kick convey the Meadows brothers' love for music (theirs and others), for telling a story set to chords and rhythms, for finding the right hook to sell the lyric, for a life's work crafting an art form to satisfy yourself and, if you are lucky, a bunch of other people as well. And while the general style is not unexpected, there are some muscular riffs echoing alt-rock influences, as well as some psychedelic touches. Time hasn't stood still and neither have The Steinbecks. The album begins with "Homesickness", the somewhat unsettling lyrics offset by a bright guitar pop arrangement. Next is "At Arkaroo Rock", which was featured on these pages last year. The song compares the layers of the geological formation with the layers of a relationship. Other standouts for me are the Dunedin-like "Below the Limen", the jangling "Trying to be Someone", which boasts a robust bassline as well, and the title track, "Kick to Kick". And then there is "I, Radio", which may be the most distinctive track on the album, musically and thematically. Initially via spoken word, and then via singing, the narrator provides a paean to indie rock and the value of radio to the music experience. Long-time fans probably need no more encouragement, but I urge new fans to experience the delights of The Steinbecks. With Kick to Kick, they have made it easy to be loved.   --When You Motor Away
Based in central Victoria, four-piece band The Steinbecks emerged from the ashes of The Sugargliders in 1994, after brothers Josh and Joel Meadows became disenchanted with the direction their former band was taking. Their new album, Kick to Kick, features 12 emotionally honest pop songs covering such topics as escaping suburbia (the ballad ‘Semblance of hope’); sustaining oneself through the romance of music after an actual romance has died (‘Through the curtain’); and a touching tribute to a complicated, much loved cousin who died too young but left a lasting impression (the title track, ‘Kick to Kick’). The album highlight is the new single ‘I, radio’, in which Joel Meadows describes his childhood discovery of the magic of radio, the impact of community broadcasters such as Three Triple R and PBS FM, and the bands that changed his life.   --Artshub
Australian outfit The Steinbecks (brothers Josh and Joel Meadows) emerged from the ashes of The Sugargliders. Their latest album Kick to Kick with The Steinbecks is their first since 2007. It’s fitting that The Steinbecks are on Matinee Recordings, home to The Lucksmiths. Their music has much of the same quirkiness with similarities to The Violent Femmes and the more laid back version of The Velvet Underground.   --Deadly Music
The welcome return of Matinée Recordings in 2014 comes with the announcement that has me pretty excited over here; the label will be releasing a full-length album from The Steinbecks…the band that features the Meadows brothers of Sugargliders fame. Kick to Kick with The Steinbecks is the name of the album, filled with jangling goodness that is likely to make any indiepop fan swoon.   --Austin Town Hall
Viene da lontano, in tutti i sensi, l’indole pop dei fratelli Joel e Josh Meadows: erano ancora le ultime stagioni degli anni ’80, quando diedero vita alla breve stagione degli Sugargliders, tramutata in culto grazie a una serie di singoli pubblicati sulla Sarah Records. Dal 1994 gli Steinbecks sono diventati la nuova incarnazione dei due artisti di Melbourne, che nel frattempo sono transitati nell’età adulta, senza però mai abbandonare né tanto meno disperdere la loro attitudine giovanile. Certo, i tempi delle uscite discografiche degli Steinbecks, già non frequentissimi, sono andati via via diradandosi, tanto che il loro sesto album esce a ben sette anni di distanza dal precedente “Far From The Madding Crowd”. Le dodici canzoni raccolte sotto l’ironico titolo “Kick To Kick With The Steinbecks” rispecchiano appunto il lungo arco temporale nel quale sono state composte, tanto per l’accuratezza della scrittura pop quanto per la varietà di registri che si susseguono senza sosta nel corso della tracklist. Gli Steinbecks si dimostrano infatti ben poco inclini alla nostalgia dell’età d’oro dell’indie-pop, alla quale hanno pur attivamente partecipato, e invece ancora impegnati a sviluppare soluzioni che non contemplano soltanto melodie di zucchero filato, ma anche semplici passaggi acustici e saltuari impeti spigolosi. Se infatti l’attitudine agrodolce del singolo d’anticipazione “At Arkaroo Rock” e lo spiccato lirismo di “Below The Limen” e “Trying To Be Someone” conservano echi del miglior pop d’autore tra anni Ottanta e Novanta, potrebbe sorprendere ritrovare gli Steinbecks in una scarna dimensione acustica in “Semblance Of Hope”, ancor più di quanto non avvenga nel febbrile namedropping-omaggio di “I, Radio” e negli accenni bluesy (“Through The Curtain”) o addirittura power-pop (“Burning Holes”), che pur si confanno alle emotive strutture ritmiche della band. Un quarto di secolo di onorata attività non sono dunque sufficienti agli Steinbecks per mostrarsi appagati, né tanto meno per esaurire la loro vena pop, che non conosce stagione né età. Chi ha detto, del resto, che l’indie-pop sia solo affare per nostalgici?   --Music Won't Save You
Lo spirito di una band come gli Steinbeck, reincarnazione di quei Sugargliders riemersi un paio d’anni fa con una compilation dei loro brani, si riassume facilmente con lo spoken word nostalgico ma non privo di una recriminazione sul presente (potrebbero averlo scritto gli Indelicates, o Billy Bragg) di “I, Radio”, in cui i ragazzi di Melbourne ricordano l’emozione delle Top40, delle trasmissioni underground, sentire per la prima volta gli Smiths, gli Rem etc. Che gli Steinbecks siano ancora in grado di parlare con questa energia di argomenti così palesemente desueti, soprattutto quando li si ascolta su Spotify, dice tutto di un disco come “Kick To Kick”, ancora una volta un lavoro in cui la band australiana rimane fedele alla sua idea di musica, senza timore di parlare di adolescenze perdute, con lo stesso sguardo ingenuamente integro di venti-trent’anni fa. Oltre ai più ovvi graffi Dunedin sound (“Trying To Be Someone”), “Kick To Kick” si muove con grande libertà tra il suadente pop-rock chitarristico di “At Arkaroo Rock”, che potremmo immaginare in bocca a un David Tattersall (più evidente la sua presenza in “Through The Curtain”) e il power-pop alla Teenage Fanclub di “Below The Limen”, con più inaspettati stacchi di organetto, mantenendo come punto focale la sua visione musicale di un mondo di sentimenti limpidi e intensi. Magari non comparirà nelle classifiche di fine anno che contano, ma sarà difficile superare “Kick To Kick” in simpatia.   --Ondarock