Rock‘n’roll trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have definitely got one thing going for them: their appearances. With Kitty and Daisy looking like they fell right out of a pin-up catalogue and Lewis sporting high-waisted pants and brogues like he was born in them, listeners know exactly how the music will sound before the first chord even hits their ears. Luckily, the sharpness of the sound matches its physicality — though the music does grow monotonous after a while.

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Smoking in Heaven
Sunday Best

The trio of siblings released a first studio album in 2008 to excellent reviews — critics were rightfully blown away by the snap and focus of the record. With their sophomore effort, Smoking in Heaven, comes the true test: Now that the novelty of the sound has worn off, can Kitty, Daisy & Lewis continue to produce remarkable music?

Their genre is specific but has a huge range of influences — something like the intersection between old-fashioned rock‘n’roll, swing, R&B and country (original, honest-to-goodness country, not Taylor Swift “country”). The trio is notorious for refusing any digital technologies in creating albums, and somehow achieves an astonishingly authentic yet technically polished sound.

The problem is that authenticity is not always enough to keep listeners coming back. If individuals want to hear something that sounds like it came out of an underground 1950s Memphis joint, they can easily access those old-timey recordings. Artists riffing on old-fashioned styles really require some degree of nuance. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis provide surprisingly tight production values (especially considering their young age and relative newness to professional music), but not much beyond that.

With a vibe that comes off as distinctly “American” (odd since they’re originally from outside of London), they excel in establishing infectious rhythms within the first few seconds of each song. But then the songs keep going … and going.

The album’s single, “Don’t Make a Fool Out of Me,” features Lewis on vocals. This one sports a percussion line a bit more exciting than the rest, and it’s good to hear a male voice in contrast to most of the other tracks, on which Kitty and Daisy usually take the microphone. Lewis wails over a numbing, repetitive beat. But on the bright side, his proficiency on the guitar is eminently apparent in this song.

The tracks are splashed with guitar, harmonica and teenage angst. The lyrics are simple, the song structures simpler. On the doo-wop soaked “You’ll Soon Be Here,” the chanteuse laments, “I’m counting the days ’til you come my way, when will you come home, baby I’m all alone.”

If Kitty, Daisy & Lewis lived during the boogie-woogie era, they surely would have made it big on their technical prowess alone. But that was over half a century ago, and the audience for that type of music isn’t nearly as large. Yet one thing’s for certain: Even those who hate old-fashioned rock‘n’roll have got to hand it to this trio for being completely clear about their sound and their image. They know something that a lot of today’s artists don’t — old-fashioned cool never goes out of style.

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