(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)
The story goes something like this: About 10 years ago, Kids On A Crime Spree founder Mario Hernandez was in Stockholm and had his mind blown when a friend put on Phil Spector’s Back To Mono box set (ABKCO, 1991). Hernandez, a long time veteran of acclaimed indie-pop outfits, including From Bubblegum To Sky and Ciao Bella, decided that he would like to emulate the troubled genius and create his own blend of epic pop.
The stunning We Love You So Bad EP is the first result of that endeavor, culled from some 100 tracks Hernandez has recorded since his revelation. With that kind of output, one hopes more releases are planned! Consisting of Hernandez on vocals and bass, along with ex-From Bubblegum To Sky cohorts Becky Barrons (drums) and Bill Evans (guitar), the Kids have a simple yet infectious sound that brings to mind the best of Spector’s “Wall of Sound” creations, in addition to modern acts like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (Hernandez’s sweet melodies are similar to those of Pain’s frontman Kip Berman).
The much-too-short We Love You So Bad (eight songs in 20 minutes) opens with the scintillating “I Don’t Want To Call You Baby, Baby,” which blends a spooky New Order bass line (Peter Hook would be proud) with some classic Jesus and Mary Chain reverb and fuzz. This is followed by “Trumpets of Death,” a classic surf pop meets 1960s girl group number where Barrons takes over lead vocals. “Sweet Tooth” is a hard edged mod anthem crossing The Raveonettes at their best with The Who’s “Substitute,” even nicking the latter’s guitar riff and “We Look Pretty Good Together” lyric! The explosive “To Mess With Dynamite” combines a breathtaking Hernandez melody with plenty of JAMC overdrive circa “Never Understand” or “You Trip Me Up.” The sweet sounding “Dead Ripe” captures the teenage symphony vision of Brian Wilson circa Pet Sounds (this would work well on a mix tape next to something like “God Only Knows”). “It’s In My Blood” is as dark as the name implies, the vocals and arrangement containing the same desperate longing of epic girl group productions like The Ronettes’ “Walking In The Rain” or The Shangri-La’s “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand).” The final two tracks are “Impasto,” which flows like an excellent update of Tommy James and The Shondells “Crimson and Clover,” and “Jean-Paul Sartre 2,” a timeless pop song that brings to mind the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star.