Kitchens Of Distinction

Strange Free World (A&M 91) Rating: A-
Led by the swirling, dreamy guitar of Julian Swales, the steady, propulsive beats of drummer Dan Goodwin, and the droll British vocals of bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, the Kitchens Of Distinction were a fine, somewhat forgotten band. Strange Free World, the band's second and most commercially successful album (though it only barely scraped the U.K. top 40), is the only album among their four original studio albums that I currently own, but believe me I'm on the lookout for more. Perhaps a couple of these songs merely come and go, and Fitzgerald's Neil Tennant-like vocals don't exactly demand notice, though his gay-friendly lyrics certainly do. But this band's strength is in their sound more than in what they have to say or how they say it; when the layered guitars, preferably played loudly, surge along with trance-like grooves on songs like "Railwayed," "Quick As Rainbows," "Polaroids," and "Drive That Fast" (my favorite), the end result is genuinely exciting and not quite like anybody else. This is an album that gets better the more you get to know it, as its hooks are deceptively catchy and take awhile to latch on. The guitar on "Gorgeous Love" is indeed gorgeous, and "Within The Daze Of Passion" has their patented guitar swirl and is quite catchy, but really the entire album is consistently pleasurable, with no obvious weak points. A "lost gem" from the banner year of 1991.

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