The Kickovers are one of the countless poppy punk bands to emerge from the Boston area since it first became an alternative rock hotbed in the mid-'80s. And one of the bands who led that movement, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, is the former employer of Kickovers singer Nate Albert. Although Albert is known for his work in that band, the music he pumps out here is much more in tune with other Boston groups such as the Lemonheads and the Blake Babies. Osaka jumps back and forth between hard-rocking emo anthems ("Diamonds to Ashes") and sweet pop tracks ("Black and Blue"). This yin and yang is quite similar to the tension that acts such as Weezer and the Foo Fighters thrive on, but without the delicate personality that those two acts center around. Unlike Dave Grohl or Rivers Cuomo, Albert is not a sensitive rock star; he's a "regular Joe" songwriter delivering down-to-earth anthems about girls and how tough life can be. With charming nuggets like "Fake in Love," this approach is not only complimentary to his style, but also doesn't smack of the copycat syndrome that so many ex-bandmembers tend to give in to. Although the album isn't terribly original, the songs are razor sharp and show a band with a lot of potential to step out of the big, bad Bosstones shadow and really come into their own.
by Bradley Torreano