Sound — 8
Much like Weezer, The Dismemberment Plan, and Cake, alternative rockers The Presidents Of The United States Of America (or PUSA, for short) decided to go the route of "leave your seriousness at the door" with making music - and they found their fans that would appreciate what their sincerely silly music brought to the table. After their fifth studio album, "These Are the Good Times People," was released in 2008, PUSA and their fans were both under the impression that this would be the last studio album that PUSA makes. But after some surprisingly productive studio sessions, PUSA announced last November that they'd be releasing a sixth studio album via the crowd-funding platform PledgeMusic. Ecstatic about the announcement, PUSA fans chipped in, and the album, "Kudos to You!," reached its target funding with flying colors.
In the description of the PledgeMusic campaign for "Kudos to You!," PUSA're telling of how well their "no expectations" studio sessions went has a charming sincerity to it. This sincerity is even more evident when you listen to the album. The feeling of PUSA doing whatever they felt like doing and whatever came to mind while recording is uncanny, and that mentality of theirs warrants a plethora of styles throughout the album. You'll find blues rock influence in "Slow Slow Fly," "Innocent Bird" and "Electric Spider," with gruff guitar-lines and solos, and simple-but-groovy bass-lines. You'll find post-grunge influence in "Flea vs. Mite," and it's even more prominent in "Stay With Me," which is on the heavy side of the spectrum with high-energy guitar fills. You'll also find post-grunge in "She's a Nurse," along with a dose of early-era pop punk in the lead guitar-line and drum-line. In "Ohio," PUSA decides to take the style in the direction of southern rock, and "Poor Little Me" reaches the point of rockabilly. The slow jam "Truck Stop on the Moon" also has a country-rock influence, while the other slow jam on the album, "Crown Victoria," incorporates a heavily-effected, psychedelic-rock-influenced guitar solo. And for those that are looking for the traditional PUSA alternative rock style, "Crappy Ghost," "Good Morning Tycoon," "Rooftops in Spain" and "Finger Monster" will give you your appropriate fix.
Lyrics — 7
In just about every case with PUSA songs, the song meanings are as "what you see is what you get" as they can be. Frontman Chris Ballew still writes his lyrics with the mentality of "whatever the hell I want to do," and it's always fun to see what he'll make a song about. From the insect-centric subject matter of "Slow Slow Fly," "Finger Monster" and "Flea vs. Mite," to the outrageous ingredient list lyrics of "Electric Spider," to the tourism-advertisement-esque lyrics of "Ohio," to "Crown Victoria," the love song dedicated to an automobile, the variance of topics on the album is nearly as fun to experience as the variance in music style. While these songs on random topics may seem stupid at face value, Ballew actually depicts alright narratives in the lyrics. There are also songs that put their best foot forward in terms of lyrical ability - like "She's a Nurse," which has lyrics that are filled with medical references, and "Rooftops in Spain," which goes so far as to incorporate several Spanish phrases in the lyrics - and there are also songs with lyrics that aren't very notable - like "Stay With Me" and "Truckstop on the Moon" - but overall, Ballew's simple approach to lyrics still contains the charm it had since PUSA's very first album.
Overall Impression — 8
There are albums that are made with everything in mind - making sure that every little detail is properly polished and striving towards being as perfect as possible - and then there are albums that are made with nothing in mind. PUSA's "Kudos to You!" is admittedly the latter, and the ending result is a brilliant example of how the latter can generate something good. The keyword with this album is "fun." Getting to hear all of these different styles on the 38-minute long album may be just as fun as it was for PUSA to record it, and getting to hear all of the different topics in the lyrics may be just as fun as it was for Ballew to write them. So when this album was made with PUSA having nothing but fun, of course it's going to be fun for the listeners - that's an element that can't be engineered, so it makes "Kudos to You!" damn worth it.