Kick out the synths and electric drum kits!
Throughout the first half of the ‘80s, the popular music scene was awash with an overabundance of pop/rock/indie acts, all vying for their very own moment in the neon spotlight. Bands such as Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Thompson Twins, Culture Club, plus a host of other English groups were dominating the international charts, thanks to their slick, well produced, synth-pop virtues. So when it came to the new wave, Britannia most definitely ruled.
And while the Brits were once again recolonising the commonwealth, the Australian music industry had its own fair share of quality pop/rock bands who were equally hungry to make their mark on the world, even if having made it overseas instead often meant being big in New Zealand.
Kids In The Kitchen may not be particularly well known to anyone outside Melbourne, Victoria, much less above the southern equator, but out of the multitude of so-called ‘new wave’ groups doing the rounds in Oz, Kids were one of the few who had real potential to crack it big, thanks to their penchant for well-crafted, intelligent tunes, and lead singer Scott Carne’s good looks (he also possesses a pretty fine voice as well).
Their debut album Shine took some eighteen months to record, before finally hitting the shops in May 1985, reaching platinum in Australia soon after.
The title track, which opens the LP (or CD, depending on your vintage), is one of those near-grandiose pop statements that many bands of the day attempted but few were capable of actually pulling off. Carne’s vocal style may bear more than a passing resemble to Simon Le Bon, which isn’t a bad thing, in that it means Carne can actually sing.
“Current Stand” is a stadium anthem if there ever was, while “Place To Go” and “Not The Way” are both buoyantly fun and funky, however it’s their first single, “Change In Mood,” that brought them to the attention of critics. It is also the song they are perhaps best remembered for, and is now considered to be a classic from the era.
Carne unleashes his inner David Sylvian on the glossy, synth-driven “Cynical,” before “Bitter Desire” sees them pay homage to Simple Minds. The immediately catchy “Something That You Said” has 1985 written all over it, as does the deeply reflective “My Life,” and “How Come,” another synth-pop-funk tune, during which the band exploit just about every electronic effect the 1980s had to offer.
Fans of ‘80s pop, especially Duran Duran and Ultravox, should find much to enjoy here. No doubt Kids In The Kitchen were sharp and clever songwriters, who could have gone on to achieve so much more. Instead, they released one more LP (Terrain), before calling it a day in 1988, not so much due to artistic differences, but the business end of things.
Shine remains to this day their crowning achievement. In 2016 the album was remastered, albeit without any of the usual bonus material one comes to expect these days on re-releases. But no matter, because this is probably all the Kids In The Kitchen most fans will ever need, even if a deluxe edition (including a DVD of live performances) would have been most welcome.