The Kids Are the Same

Paul Collins / Paul Collins' Beat

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The Kids Are the Same Review

by Mark Deming

It's a story as old as time (and rock & roll) itself -- band makes great debut album, then has to come up with a follow-up, and doesn't do quite as good a job. While The Kids Are the Same, the second album from Paul Collins and the Beat (here called the Paul Collins' Beat to avoid confusion with then-popular British ska outfit of the same name), is hardly a disaster, it's a genuine disappointment after the modest classic that was their debut album. Producer Bruce Botnick seems to have been going for a more spacious sound on this set, and it doesn't suit the band as well as the tight, AM-friendly tone of the first LP, and Collins doesn't write quite as many instant classics for this disc. Many of the songs go for a more measured approach than the speed-demon hook-fest of album number one, with a conspicuously higher "gal's got me down" quotient, and while the material is still quite good, it isn't as exciting or engaging. But there are still some great rock & roll tunes here, the band is tight and emphatic, and "The Kids Are the Same" is a classic teen anthem waiting to be rediscovered. While there's a bit of "sophomore slump" in The Kids Are the Same, it's still a better pop album than most of the bands in the L.A. "skinny tie" brigade were serving up at the time, with real passion and smart songwriting bringing it home; it sure didn't deserve to be the group's last major-label set.

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