The Stepkids: Troubadour (Stones Throw) album review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, January 18th, 2021  

The Stepkids


Stones Throw

Sep 12, 2013 Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT Bookmark and Share

It's easy to imagine a party in which one puts on the laidback '70s funk of "The Lottery" and has a party guest ask, "Who is this?" only to have the same guest ask the same question during the pretty, fairly bland indie rock of "Insecure Troubadour." And yet both songs not only come from the same artist, but the same album. Bridgeport, Connecticut's The Stepkids' second full length, Troubadour, sounds like a mixtape from a chameleonic band that does many things well, but nothing that's identifiable as them.

There are so many influences, not simply over the course of the album, but over the course of one song, that trying to pin down The Stepkids' style is one of the main pleasures of Troubadour. Within "Symmetry," there are traces of jazz, hip-hop, prog rock, psychedelia, and soul. Somehow they make it work, and "Symmetry" is one of Troubadour's high points, but because they're so all over the place, the album fails to hold together. "Bitter Bug," for example, uses modern hip-hop and soul as a template, but it ends up sounding like one instance where the band stretches too far.

Lyrically, there's not much to hang one's hat on, and The Stepkids might be the absolute perfect band to go on a run of concept albums, because they're so malleable that something as simple as a cohesive story line could force them to stay in one place long enough for the listener to form some allegiance. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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