With the Fastbacks now only a memory, Seattle obviously needs a rock band with an adequate supply of hooks, punch, and smarts to take their place, and Once for Kicks sound like a reasonable choice to fill the void. It helps that one Kurt Bloch is playing bass with the band, but he doesn't write any of the songs and isn't calling the shots; instead, guitarists and vocalists Bill Coury and Tom Cummings are the brains of this outfit, and their approach is understandably a good bit different than the FBX. Once for Kicks's third full-length album, In the Dollhouse, shows these guys have a great ear for melodies and an instinctual feel for the rock thing; though their attack sometimes leans to the arty side and suggests a fondness for prog and '70s rock, "Bad Day" and "I Need a Script" make it clear they know when to clear away the excess and turn up the amps, and their harmonies are just the right topping for this sundae. Coury and Cummings are also a potent guitar combination, blending their instrumental voices into a solid unison punch, while Bloch and David Gleza push the tunes forward with just enough force and a good-sized portion of finesse. In the Dollhouse isn't your typical veteran indie rock album -- these guys seem to be a lot more interested in pleasing their own ears than confirming their cool status -- but that's a good part of what makes it interesting, and this shows Once for Kicks are one band who aren't afraid to try making smart music fun. And even better, they make it work.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming