The Stepkids Troubadour

The StepkidsTroubadour
The StepKids' sophomore album, Troubadour, is a kaleidoscope of stimulating sounds paired with lyrics that often feel too affected to be taken seriously. Part of the group's appeal is that they sound like musician friends gigging at a hipster lounge in their spare time, just for kicks. But the StepKids have a tendency to undermine emotion by crafting peculiar lyrics that weaken the song's message (i.e., "Symmetry"). They successfully channel Steely Dan eccentric-ness on "The Lottery" and "Moving Pictures," with both encapsulating the band's jazzy funkiness and pleasurable, back-in-the-day grooves. However, it's as if they're itching to reveal all their inspirations on this one album, whether it calls for them or not. "Bitter Bug" and "Insecure Troubadour" find them squeezing influences into Troubadour that make it swing wildly, like a kicked pendulum. The trio are adroit musicians with pleasant vocal abilities — loving the falsetto — and if you look past the over-indulgences, the album is solid, if not particularly memorable. (Stones Throw)