The Cool Kids - When Fish Ride Bicycles
Record Label: Green Label Sound
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Despite their relatively short careers in the mainstream, hip-hop group The Cool Kids have had a ridiculous amount of exposure over the years. With features in the NBA 2K video game series and multiple episodes of HBO's Entourage, they quickly and quietly made a name for themselves. No, their success didn't create a huge explosion in the hip-hop world, but a strong following of dedicated fans saw what they were able to accomplish and provided support accordingly. While their star faded a bit, they continued to gain acknowledgment with easily recognizable hits from a trio of well-received mixtapes.
So while When Fish Ride Bicycles may be their first full-length album, they have a wealth of experience both in underground and popular circles to fall back on. Antoine Reed and Evan Ingersoll, known respectively as Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, combine their comparative delivery styles over old-school funk inspired beats. The whole of the album is a rather chill experience, bouncy without a single hint of urgency, which crafts a unique experience that becomes less and less exciting as the album rolls on.
When Fish Ride Bicycles features a slightly interesting first half. Album opener “Rush Hour Traffic” and follow-up “GMC” are both driven by tight snare and cymbal beats, the former adding harsh punctuating horn and vocal samples while the latter focuses more on the duo's laid back approach to delivery and lyricism. “Penny Hardaway” carries the album's biggest feature with the inclusion of Wu-Tang alum Ghostface Killah. This appearance highlights the shortcomings both Reed and Ingersoll face in their lackadaisical flow as Killah injects a much-needed dose of passion to a track that would be ridiculously boring without him.
The biggest problem with When Fish Ride Bicycles is the overall dull presentation and atmosphere. Even the introductory tracks, arguably some of the best the album has to offer, build very little momentum. There are novel moments in the production's liberal use of retro samples, but they fail to even the light weight of the vocalists' sluggish lyricism. The single proper highlight comes in the Neptunes produced track “Get Right,” joining Killah's verse as the two single moments of inspiration to come from the entire album. “Get Right” is full of classic Neptunes hooks and melodies, providing the perfect example of how passive production and vocal delivery can still be compelling and fun. "Summer Jam" carries the same Neptunes style thanks to solid production from Pharrell Williams. Impressive by the low standards set by the rest of the album, "Summer Jam" is just as the name implies, and features beautiful vocal accompaniment from Maxine Ashley.
And that's about it. Writing anything else on When Fish Ride Bicycles would just be an exercise in thesaurus scouring and mind-numbing boredom. Reed and Ingersoll mumble over uninspired production that fails to grab any sort of attention. Because of their uncaring delivery, I found myself similarly detached from whatever it was they were talking about. When even the likes of Ghostface Killah, Bun B, and The Neptunes fail to prop your album up above being at least mediocre, there's something definitely wrong. When Fish Ride Bicycles is not terrible, but is far from being even remotely entertaining.
Hate to say it, but since their monsterous first ep, these guys have gone downhill. I remember reading their spin feature about four years ago thinking they were going to be the next big thing. Shit. I might still catch them on sunday.