When they first emerged in Hawthorne, California some 32 years ago—back when fraternal founders Jeff and Steve McDonald were barely in high school, let alone out of it—Redd Kross imagined themselves as the missing link between The Beatles and Black Flag, embracing the raucous energy and DIY ethos of hardcore but reacting to its stern-faced severity by celebrating bubblegum pop and celebrity trash culture.
But now that Steve is currently getting his punk-rock ya-yas out with ex-Black Flag belter Keith Morris in OFF!, it figures that Redd Kross’ first album in 15 years, recorded with their 1987-era line-up, strongly favours melody over muscle.
If the modestly scaled jangle-pop on Researching the Blues bears little of the transgressive edge that once made Kross mega-fans out of everyone from Thurston Moore to Scott Weiland, it does show that the passage of time has been kind to Jeff’s ’66-vintage Lennon rasp and the brothers’ harmony-rich bonhomie. Power-pop may not be the soundtrack of choice for today’s teenagers, but it still does the trick for eternal ones.
Playlist picks: “Stay Away From Downtown,” “One of the Good Ones”