Many were introduced to the versatile chops of the Stepkids two years after the release of their psychedelic breakout debut, when they uploaded live covers to YouTube that demonstrated their ability to jazz up the freshly released singles "Suit and Tie" by Justin Timberlake and "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk. As musically inclined as the onetime session musicians proved themselves to be, Troubadour is a middling sophomore album that finds the band more concerned with capturing a tone than constructing a song with a solid foundation. The Stepkids' "Legend in My Own Mind" showed they could write a tight hook, even when they were getting freaky with psychedelic soul. Their ambitions run a little high this time. In this take on Yacht Rock, blue-eyed soul, and early-'80s funk, much of the music on board comes across like a lighter, skinnier version of Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, or many of the obtuse (and commonly sampled) artists on the Dusty Fingers series of compilations. Strangely, this update of their sound means abandoning Funkadelic space grooves for smooth AM fusion. Guitarist Jeff Gitelman, bassist/keyboardist Dan Edinberg, and drummer Tim Walsh prove themselves capable at this genre, however, and appropriately it is far less soulful. Despite some missteps, like an attempt at rapping on "Bitter Bug" or a slight lapse into new age on "Symmetry," there are a handful of songs that redeem the ambling nature of the album: "The Lottery," "Desert in the Dark," "Sweet Salvation," and "Moving Pictures" qualify as highlights.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover