Kirby Krackle’s 2010 release E for Everyone was, hands down, my favorite rock album of the year. Since its release I’ve reviewed it, played it on my podcasts, interviewed founding members Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos, scrutinized both their live band setup and their team of crack studio musicians and pretty much pimped the group out anytime I was given even a moment to discuss the overarching concept of geek rock.
Yeah, you could say I’m kind of a fan.
This, of course, means that I’ve been anxiously awaiting their follow-up album, with part of me terrified that it wouldn’t live up to the band’s legacy and the other part just glad to know that more music was on the way. Earlier this month the guys’ third studio album Super Powered Love was released, and, Galactus be praised, it was every bit as epic as I’d hoped.
Allow me to elucidate in exhausting detail:
“Then Again, Maybe Not” lacks some of the urgency of E for Everyone opener “Vault 101,” but it’s a solid up-tempo rocker that’s a fine introduction to the new album. It describes the unspoken attraction between a superhero and his arch-nemesis. Although, as the title implies, she seems a bit less than interested. This leads us to “Bite of Another,” a Black Crowes-style southern vampire stomper. It’s new sonic territory for the guys, and Kyle’s vocals sound better than ever.
Three tracks in we strike gold with “Booty Do Math,” my new favorite Kirby Krackle song, and, truthfully, another addition to my growing list of all-time favorite genre-benders. Though the hook-laden guest verse by my pal Adam WarRock grabs the listener’s attention, Kyle Stevens’s R. Kelly-inspired counter-melody vocals across the song’s latter bars punctuate things perfectly, as does his Bieber-esque pronunciation of the word “shawty.”
“Big Heart” tells the story of a superpowerless superhero — a la Kick-Ass — amid a solid rock ‘n’ roll shuffle, while “Hunt ’em All Down” channels a vaguely funk-metal groove into a pitch-perfect tale of (what I at least believe to be) the IDW continuity Transformers. Thereafter, what “In Another Castle” loses for its obvious instrumental and structural similarity to Kirby Krackle’s debut album stand-out “Zombie Apocalypse” it more than makes up for in ukulele-soaked gamer goodness.
The latter half of the album kicks off with the Tex-Mex lotto-winnin’ daydream of “Nerd Money.” It’s likely Super Powered Love‘s weakest selection, but on its own merits it’s still a rock-solid joint. It’s followed by the album’s debut self-titled single, which is just as endearing, engaging and enjoyable as it was when Kyle leaked it to me all those weeks ago.
“Comic Shop” welcomes back E for Everyone guest rapper GMK The Great on an off-kilter parody of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop,” which is worth a listen for the humorous censoring alone. (Spoiler: it’s Walking Dead-related.) “Rainbow Bridge” likewise keeps things in that comic book vein with a power ballad dedicated to Marvel’s Thor. Because Kirby Krackle is nothing if not nerd-topical.
The album begins its wind-down with “Needing a Miracle,” which borrows both a shade of its guitar melody and its theme of human/superhuman romance from “Super Powered Love” (albeit with the gender roles reversed this time around.) That track builds big and then dissolves into “Open up Your Window,” which plays like a continuation of the same musical love story.
Super Powered Love closes with the glam-punk “I Wanna Live in a World Full of Heroes,” a song that, with a couple of obvious exceptions, plays like the album’s triumphant mission statement. With the overall project centered firmly on tales from within our favorite fictional worlds, it’s a fitting end that again pushes the band in a new musical direction.
While only time will tell how well Super Powered Love stands up against this year’s other heavy hitters — both The BossFights and Supercommuter have proven that Kirby Krackle isn’t the only band to up its game in 2011 — it easily boasts the single greatest track of the summer. I’d recommend the album as an easy buy simply on the strength of “Booty do Math,” but with a dozen other top-shelf cuts Super Powered Love is another must-own masterpiece from Seattle’s reigning kings of geeky guitar pop.
“‘Member when your magic made me pregnant? / ‘Member when you turned Africa Asian?”
[This piece was cross-posted from my nerd music and culture blog Hipster, please!]