Published on October 6th, 2011 | by Queso0
Review: When Fish Ride Bicycles – The Cool Kids
Three years after their critically acclaimed EP, The Bake Sale, Mike Rocks and Chuck Inglish deliver their first studio album, When Fish Ride Bicycles. With a hand in production from Pharrell Williams and vocals from Bun B, Ghostface Killah, and Mayer Hawthorne, to name a few, The Cool Kids bring an album ready for primetime.
First and foremost, your speakers better be ready. For those who have not experienced the massaging music of The Cool Kids, this is your warning. And I do mean massaging literally! Honestly, the only place I can properly listen to this album is in my car because nothing else has the kind of bass and volume combination essential for this album. Anyway . . .
Chuck Inglish really put his foot into the production. As Boman pointed out while we were listening to one of the tracks, The Cool Kids has always had a unique approach to production. From composing a beat almost entirely out of vocals (“What Up Man”) to catchy uses of slowed down vocals, whether samples or original, you could expect to hear something different. We don’t hear any beats composed entirely of vocals on this album, but we do hear Chuck put in a lot of work behind the boards.
Three tracks into the album, you may find yourself thinking, “These tracks are starting to sound the same,” and they do. As great as the tracks sound, the bass-heavy production and similar tempos, as well as distorted vocals of “GMC” and “Freak City,” make you wonder if the entire album is going to sound the same. If so, the album could become boring.
Chuck Inglish’s production has been influenced by Pharrell/The Neptunes for When Fish Ride Bicycles, such as during the chorus of “Boomin” feat. Tennille. That influence is very welcome and helped make this album sound more complete. Track four, “Sour Apples,” is where you first start to notice the diversity in the production of the album. Unlike The Bake Sale’s minimalistic production, When Fish Ride Bicycles is minimalism with that Neptune sound, PWEW . . . Pwew…pwew. Listening to the album, you can hear Chuck’s drums with the Neptunes synth, Pharrell’s drum pattern with Chuck’s bassline, or a combination of any of these. I mean, it is The Cool Kids, but the album sounds more diverse.
Let’s say the album is a burger. I like burgers, but adding cheese and bacon wouldn’t hurt, right? This album was “The Cool Kids Drive-thru” upgrading my burger to a freakin’ bacon cheese burger. And . . . oh shit, are those fries?? With features from Ghostface Killah (“Penny Hardaway”), Bun B (“Gas Station”), and Mayer Hawthorne (“Swimsuits”), to name a few, this album is a full number 88.
The track order of When Fish Ride Bicycles is somewhat transitional. It starts with tracks very Bake Sale-esque and we gradually transition out of the ’88 production into some more layered sounds. “Sour Apples” is the track that we start to hear Pharrell, especially in the synth. By the end of the album, we have a track completely produced by Pharrell.
One thing that remains consistent is the content; it’s still about The Cool Kids being . . . “Cool.” From being “the only third grader in the school with a beeper” on “Bundle Up” to flossing their entire attire with Ghostface on “Penny Hardaway,” they are talking about where they came from, where they are, and how fly they are. That’s The Cool Kids; it’s fun. We do get something different with a somewhat R&B track in “Talk of the Town” and the Mayer Hawthorne feature, “Swimsuits.”
Although The Neptunes are credited with production of one track and Pharrell is credited with production on another, we can conclude that The Cool Kids have been influenced by Pharrell and/or The Neptunes throughout the album. That Neptune sound—PWEW. . . Pwew…pwew—is found throughout the album, and it works well. Chuck Inglish working closely with Pharrell is a welcome combination and gives this album a more complete feel. Mike and Chuck are talking about how “Cool” they are throughout most of the album, but what would you expect? Appearances from Asher Roth, Ghostface Killah, Bun B, and Mayer Hawthorne help round out the album. While the album didn’t make huge waves, When Fish Ride Bicycles is a good album and definitely worth listening to.
Queso’s pick from When Fish Ride Bicycles has to be “Roll Call.” It’s a dope collaboration track with several MCs coming together and dropping dope rhymes (often referencing weed). The beat . . . mm, that simple drum loop that alters every four bars and looped piano chords. It’s just dope.