For an album that promises a metaphorical punch to the face, The Vidos’ Right in the Kisser sure starts off gently. Opening track and lead single “Boomshackalacka” takes a solitary few hits of snare from drummer Nolan Nelson, eventually joined by a simple melody from guitarist Kirk Musfelt and the recognizable vocals of Brett Hornall to round out the Vancouver-based sludge pop trio.
It’s a calming, meditative combo that might have some Vidos fans wondering where the band’s signature high-energy experience has gone. But the hook cometh at the 60 second mark, when the beat doubles and The Vidos launch into a catchy chorus that is paradigmatic of what’s to come across the rest of the album.
Track number two, “No Body,” sees the band back in full form from the jump, with one of the crunchiest riffs on the entire record and a proper showing of Musfelt’s chops thanks to a short-but-no-less-sweet guitar solo leading into the outro. “The Pressha,” “Knuckle Sandwich,” and “U Still Got My Number” are the kind of groovy tunes that demand a subconscious head bob at the very least, and would be right at home blasted from a cruising car’s speakers, windows down, rainy Vancouver winters be damned.
“Canadian Tuxedo” brings ‘80s rock balladry back in full force, a likely remnant from the band’s origin story playing Rush covers at their high school dances. But the standout, scratches-an-itch-in-my-brain-I-never-knew-existed kinda tune is "Wedding Crashers." It's like a glorious lovechild of all the best parts of Boney M.'s "Rasputin," Franz Fredinand's "Take Me Out," and even Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2." Compact at just under three minutes, it’s hard not to start the song right back up again as soon as it ends.
If you do manage to let the album play through naturally, you’ll be met by “Pushin’ Daisies,” which showcases Hornall’s range and makes for a sweet prelude to the closer track, “Stats.”
A boisterous lament at taking a look back at the end of life, it’s fitting that “Stats” concludes an album that captures The Vidos wearing all their different hats. Lines such as, “When I die/I wanna see all my stats, yeah, all my favourite tracks,” seems like both a reflection and celebration of the band’s 10+ years together making all the boldly experimental sounds that have coalesced into Right in the Kisser.
It’s a love letter to the band’s evolution, and of all that The Vidos have to offer—which is, in as few words as possible: a lot.
Right in the Kisser will be released on Rock Is Dead Records via 604 Records on February 17.