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REVIEWS : Reviews of Kitchens of Distinction albums and other projects

CAPSULE: The Best of KOD 1988-94 from Logo Magazine

Formed in early 1985 by jobbing musicians Patrick Fitzgerald, Julian Swales and Dan Goodwin, Kitchens Of Distinction worked at their career the hard way: years on the toilet circuit, a slew of independent releases and their one lucky break when One Little Indian heard a demo and signed them. Their debut album, 1989ís ĎLove Is Hellí received a better NME review than The Stone Roses debut, reviewed in the same issue, but somehow fame and fortune escaped them. Blame it on Fitzgeraldís openness about his sexuality (Elton John hadnít been the best ambassador for gay men), their intense lyricism (we already had The Smiths) or their leanings toward the blue-sky rock of R.E.M. (who needs two versions of R.E.M.?), but you certainly canít blame their material. Compiled here for the first time are career highlights (for once, a selection truly deserving of the title), demos, live tracks and alternate takes. Itís a sharp reminder that it wasnít all that long ago that truly exceptional bands like KoD could be left on the shelf. What would you give for such an embarrassment of riches today?

Love is Hell: "Music of Quality and Distinction", Hot Press, July 1989

Dice rating: 10/12 - "Excellent"

YOU'D HUG Kitchens Of Distinction if you didn't feel they'd burn you up at the touch. This is a record best experienced while lying in a crumpled heap on your kitchen floor, eyes open and wet, scrabbling softly at the linoleum. This is a hopelessly, endlessly, magnificently sad album. You know the feeling you get when you leave a country, even one you may not have particularly liked, and a crushing invisible block of nostalgia suddenly flattens you? You know that feeling?

I defy you to listen to "Time To Groan" or "3rd Time We Opened The Capsule" and not feel like breaking down completely. The former is playing beside me right now and the last thing I want to do is review the bastards: I want to write a letter to someone I don't know, pick a name out of the book, tell them my troubles, ask them theirs, arrange a pot roast. Something like that.

"Love Is Hell" is a masterful debut with, as you can see, a splendid title. Listen to the thing straight through and it's like getting drunk and emotional without the drunk part. It's pure. It's this uncorrupted line of roaring sadness that you can trace back through every wonderful moment of your life and on into the next couple.

A three-piece, the Kitchens have an expansive sound and range that makes "Hell" a far more attractive proposition than many of their post-jangly, post-Smiths counterparts. This may be stretching it, but songs like "In A Cave" could conceivably argue the case for stadium rock if they weren't already as majestic as they could be. It would be nice to share the experience of music like this coming out of speaker-stacks the size of 20-storey filing cabinets though.

And there's little I can add to that, really, except to say that singer Patrick sounds uncannily like Nick Kelly of The Fat Lady Sings, the sleeve is one of the best this year, combining as it does homo-erotic, religious and Soviet propagandist imagery, and I love them to death. Long may they burn.

Graham Linehan
HOT PRESS, July 1989

Feel My Genie: "SCORCHIO!"
Melody Maker & New Music Express

Melody Maker, 'SINGLE OF THE WEEK' as reviewed by Richard Smith
Fierce Panda

SCORCHIO! If you have to have it spelt out to you, Kitchens OD are Kitchens Of Distinction under a new moniker.

You see, there's been some changes going on round at Kitchen Acres. Due to a recent house clearance by those nice people at One Little Indian, the Kitchens are currently label-less, so this double A-side is a one-off for Fierce Panda. One of our finest purveyors of wiggy guitar rock have come back with the kind of single that troubles sheep and frightens small children.

Kitchens' trademark swirling and howling guitars are all present and correct, but now they've gone all darkly funky on us, too. "To Love A Star" is a song about stalking that's every bit as disturbing as having some goon sniffing round your back door in the dark of night. The prowling "Feel My Genie" sees Patrick and the boys heading for the suburbs and then going down the basement for some rum goings on. Much more messy-thankfully-than anything on their rather glossy last LP, "Cowboys And Angels", this is easily the Kitchens strongest, rocking-est single since "Quick As Rainbows". So up yours, One Little Indian.

By the way, I've got a tape of Patrick's Fruit solo album. And, boy, is that gonna blow your fluffy little socks off.

Feel My Genie (Fierce Panda)

CURRENTLY RESIDING in the 'Do we care where they are now?' file, but we surely do, seeing as how they appear on the inner sleeve of their first single for two years in drag, and especially as it turns out the song is about wanting to marry someone and live with a cockatoo in the living room, or if not go down to the cellar and 'stroke the lamp and feel my genie'. Mmmmatron! And it rocks like a bitch bastard hermaphrodite gorilla on heat. As you would in a similar situation.

New Musical Express

Kitchens of Distinction play 'Cowboys and Aliens' from Pause and Play

(Jan. 26, 1995)

Even before their new album, "Cowboys and Aliens," was released in their native Britain last year, Kitchens of Distinction lead singer Patrick Fitzgerald predicted how the British press would react to it.

" 'Oh, they're back again! Oh, s---, this is a really good album. It would be so much easier just to dismiss them. A shame we can't,' " he said with a laugh. "I think we're just this constant thorn, which makes me happy. I'd much rather be a thorn than a flower."

Regardless, the Kitchens bloom on their third A&M effort, released Jan. 24 and featuring the lush single "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye" and the likely follow-up "Sand On Fire." Fitzgerald said he and his bandmates - guitarist Julian Swales and drummer Dan Goodwin - wanted to stretch their sound this time around.

"After 'The Death of Cool' record (in '93), it had gotten to the point where we were getting a little bored with what we were doing," he said. "We thought, 'Well, why don't we do something a bit more stripped back and a bit more aggressive, the way that we are live. Let's see if we can capture that,' and that was the intent. We decided to produce ourselves to give it some roughness."

Fitzgerald hopes "Cowboys and Aliens" catches Kitchens of Distinction fans off-guard.

"I still think it's very beautiful music and continues in the vein of our previous work in that it tries to provide a world apart from the harsh reality around us," he said. "Instead of things like Rollins and Green Day bitching about what's going on around them, I think Kitchens provide the alternative world the chance to plunk your head in for an hour and escape. We continue to do that, but we just changed the landscape."

Review from 

Strange Free World is the first great album out of the U.K. in 1991, and as wholly fulfilling an LP as we're likely to hear from her majesty's voice during this or any other year. In a time dominated by quick and easy singles, often based on nothing more than gimmicky slogans or well-worn ideas, the Kitchens have crafted a fully realized collection that, while crammed with potential singles, feels like an album. Their past singles and EPs (collected in the U.S. by Rough Trade on Love Is Hell) only hinted at the emotional expanse and depth found on Strange Free World-producer Hugh Jones (Echo & The Bunnymen, Ultra Vivid Scene) has taken the Kitchens' waves of glistening feedback and shaped their sound into a vast, layered throbbing pulse. It's almost too easy to liken the Kitchens to renowned Brit swirl-pop like the Smiths, Bunnymen, Chameleons or Cocteau Twins; while there's no denying the textural similarities, especially when it comes to the wash of guitars, the welcome lack of vocal flamboyance and the constant melodic bursts of brilliance help not only to distance the Kitchens from knee-jerk comparisons, but also to propel them into heights few bands ever approach. Begin with the dazzling initial single, "Drive That Fast," and then proceed to "Gorgeous," "Railwayed," "Quick As Rainbows" and "Polaroids."

© 1978-1998 College Media, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Coyboys and Aliens review from Fallout Magazine.  Original copy located here.

Kitchens of Distinction Cowboys and Aliens (One Little Indian/A&M)

Kitchens of Distinction forged a large underground following after the releases of Strange Free World and The Death of Cool. The shimmering guitars and tales of love and loss endeared them to the hearts of many, and subsequent rumors of break-up seemed to spell the end of the band. After some time away from each other, the band regrouped for another stab at it. In some respects, they could have ended it there. Although Cowboys and Aliens contains some of the elements of the previous efforts, it falls short when compared directly to those earlier efforts.

The lead-off "Sand on Fire" begins with Julian Swales swirling guitar layers, but the tone is harsher. Patrick Fitzgerald's usual vocal style is there, but is augmented by female backing vocals. Although not a total wash, it is a slight change in sound that seems uncomfortable to them. The redeem themselves on "Get Over Yourself," with airier guitars and brighter feel. The guitar interplay that Swales honed in the past resurfaces, making this a classic Kitchens song. "Come On Now" builds with a melodic bass intro and stout drumming before adding guitar melody. The tune builds in places, and the mellow resolves make this tune quite effective.

Love is still the primary theme here. In addition to the previously mentioned songs, "Thought He Had Everything" is a classic Kitchens foray into the delicacies of love. On this venture, the music has a darker tone while re-visiting their sound, but, for some reason, comes up short. The title track steps up the tempo, but starts out with a thin sound that never quite shakes itself free of. "Remember Me?" is a weaker tune that is only salvaged by the short, swirling guitar leads. The single, "Now It's Time To Say Goodbye," falls short of the usual high Kitchens standard.

Although not a disaster, this record feels forced in places. The strong points are just that, but as a whole, it leaves the hardcore fan feeling a bit cheated. If you are willing to overlook some of the weaker numbers, you'll find the typical guitar swirl and tomes about love you've grown to love. If this was their only release, it might be easier to forgive the few shortcomings, but since we know what these lads can accomplish, Cowboys and Aliens seems incomplete.

-tom topkoff


Exclusive Review from CMJ NewMusic Report 

An eternity has passed since we last heard from these Brit popsters. Relief has arrived in the form of Cowboys And Aliens, which affirms Kitchens Of Distinctions' tenacity over a near decade-long career. Maturity suits the Kitchens well though, and they flaunt it in a number of conspicuous changes. Longtime producer Hugh Jones has departed, leaving knob-twiddling duties to the band's live soundman, who succeeds ably. The presence of background vocals immediately distinguishes this record from its three predecessors, yet a far more significant evolution has occurred: Guitarist Julian Swales has mothballed some of his galactic effects pedals for a more traditional sound that is less shimmery, but no less powerful. And while these are welcomed refinements, the familiar frank narratives of passion and heartache penned by frontman Patrick Fitzgerald remain happily untouched. He poetically depicts a universe of lust and sinful delight, where fantasy ("I'll get the pencils/We'll draw ourselves a new world") triumphs over staggering reality ("When you're in love/You have someone to hit"). The soundtrack to your orgy on Mars: "Sand On Fire," "Thought He Had Everything," "One Of Those Sometimes Is Now," and "Pierced."


The following is a December 4, 1997 review of Patrick's band, Fruit, from New Music Express.  The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.

Hark At Her
(One Little Indian)

FOR PATRICK Fitzgerald, this solo album is a chance to come out of the closet. Nothing to do with his sexuality; if you weren't already aware, the self-mockingly camp title tells you all you need to know there. No, the particular wardrobe he must extract himself from is marked, 'Critically-lauded but unlikely to bother the shelf-stackers at Our Price'.

After all, following some marvellous records with Kitchens Of Distinction, their label dropped them. So you can't blame him for opening with a song that brazenly threatens to eat the Top 20. It's a squelchingly-lascivious tune called 'What Is Fruit?', where he barks, Mark E Smith-style, a list of all the things fruit are; "queer and scary", "killing in a cartoon way", and, bizarrely, "two coppers in the kitchen". As openings go, it's only slightly less bewildering than playing Trivial Pursuit in Latvian. But that, surely, is the point. Because the album is subtitled, '11 Assorted Fruit Flavours'; meaning they can be unashamedly pop, sound a bit a like David Bowie, play acoustic eulogies, or bash out brash guitar crunchers. Which permits songs as diverse as 'Leather Jacket' - a menacing rumble of bigotry, fear and gay-bashing that ends with a brutal gunshot before turning into an even scarier factual reprise; and 'Starring Relationship' - a sardonic critique of people who talk constantly about their love lives, involving Miki Berenyi swearing like a fishwife and moaning about men. So no change there then.

But the collaborations don't end there. 'Close Personal Friends' is a dreamlike duet with Isobel from Drugstore that hides infanticide under its beautifully serene surface, whilst 'Prowler' allows the honeyed tonsils of David McAlmont to live out all the smoky, torch-song fantasies Bernard forbade.

Inevitably there's the odd mangy apple, but this is mostly magnificently scabrous, eloquent, and salacious stuff. Therein lies the true answer to 'What Is Fruit?'. And that's a fine album. - Jim Alexander

December 28, 1997 review of Patrick's band Fruit from Twee Kitten, original text located here.

What made Kitchens of Distinction stand apart from all of the other wah-wah pedal slinging core of early 90s English pop groups was two things, one they had an unending string of beautiful collages of sparkling noise and simple beats, and second Patrick Fitzgerald proved to be a lyricist of no equal during his prime. Well the Kitchens are dead and from their ashes arises Fruit, the new solo project (although it prominently features the other two Kitchens as well) from Patrick the lead singer and bass player.

And well, this record is a disappointment, gone is the shimmering wall of noise created so effortlessly by Julian Swales and in is a ragged attempt at updating his musical resume. Patrick has installed decidedly non-funky beats into the mix, some electronics, tape effects and an easy atmosphere, and well I would say this ranks far below all of his previous efforts as a member of Kitchens of Distinction.

The record opens with the first single 'What is Fruit?' and it is just plain awful, the song sounds like something Bono might consider hip. The album moves through similar sounding songs, sure there are a few highlights the delightfully pop 'Sally's Car' and the highly percussive and intriguing 'Leather Jacket', but mostly the record only hints at past glories. Patrick's voice is less impassioned than usual and being relegated to a supporting role only, Julian's guitar contributions are not as effective.

There probably will not be a domestic release, and well I can't say I would recommend you buy this record on import. As funky as a flat tire.

The following is a January 9, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express.  The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.

Needles Eye
(Bad Parents)

This one I'm hanging on to. Over a wasted, civil war-style landscape comes a vocal that sounds like some daughter of Tim Buckley intoning a lament for the dead, before gradually the drones in the background pick themselves up like soldiers come back to life and start flitting about the song like busy little sprites. The further two tracks, 'A Reason To Live' and 'Seen Before' continue in a similar vein of sober but not po-faced beauty. I know nothing about Lost Girls; all I know is the world should know more about them.

The following is a February 6, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express.  The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.

Needle's Eye
(Bad Parents)

Lost Girls, like almost everyone in the singles pile this week, have a fair bit of previous form - being Patrick Fitzgerald of the deathlessly fine Kitchens Of Distinction and Heidi Berry, faintly medieval songstrel once of Creation and 4AD.

The aesthetic here is predominantly space-folk, all dissolute wailing and crepuscular atmospherics, so that 'Needle's Eye' comes on like a late-'90s update of This Mortal Coil's 'Song To The Siren'.

The following is a March 19, 1999 review of Patrick's band, Lost Girls, from New Music Express.  The original text is located here, but I've included it here for posterity.

Novak/Lost Girls
London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

After nearly a decade of pretending not to care, Patrick Fitzgerald, finally, really doesn't. And he is happy. The former Kitchen Of Distinction and Fruit frontman positively beams as he strums through 'A Reason To Live', the best song his new band, Lost Girls, possess, his voice still fragile, still strangely reassuring.

For the most part, it's his partner in song, sometime 4AD folk artist Heidi Berry, who leads the Girls cautiously down avenues of detailed introspection and restrained drones. It's a courteous noise, yet wholly unpleasant, and one which, on songs like 'Needle's Eye', partially hides Berry's earnest full-moon yearnings. They're not lost at all; rather, the journey's just begun.

Novak, meanwhile, are still trying to find a direction. Having deliberated for too long over any singular governing style, the Birmingham seven-piece now seem determined to assert their independence by indulging their individual musical whims, often sacrificing a much-needed coherence in the process.

One of the initial attractions of Novak lay in the way they eked a vague beauty from such structured chaos, yet hampered tonight by poor sound, not even 'Boy Scouts Of America' or 'Hotter Is Faster' can honestly profess to contain anything as extravagant as a tune. Some face is salvaged with the final faux-naive rumble of 'Lord Of The World'. Frustratingly, it's too little too late.  -Piers Martin

The Bull & Gate, Kentish Town, London - August 6 1990
Sounds, August 26 1990 & Melody Maker, August 18 1990

A 'secret gig' for two bands who have a loyal following on the independent circuit but have yet to make the break into the mainstream. Both record for One Little Indian Records and have appealingly wry oddball visions of the world.

Guardian, August 6 1990

The Pop Club are putting on a special night of live music thanks to One Little Indian records. The "secret" gig means that the two bands in question are going under pseudonyms, namely the Toilets Of Destruction and the Jellypops. It doesn't take a huge amount of brainpower to suss this one, I hope.

Evening Standard, August 6 1990

Kentish Town Wool And Plate

MAKE NO mistake, the Toilets are the best new band to hit these parts since Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds, Crappy Runways, maybe even the Bone Noses. Song titles were few on the ground, but then again you probably can't read anyway. Suffice to say, the one about the "wild" "thing" sounded like a primal caveman belch outta hell, and the one about "being" "a hero" "just for one day" - dedicated to some mysterious 'friend' in Switerland - was good enough to have been penned by Tom 'I'm A Very Sexual Person' Warrior.

The big bird singer got her tits out for the lads - no puffs here, mate - before she started talkin' dirty about "staining the carpet" and such like on another new song called 'Sister Ray'. Only bad bit was when some bloke next to me started moaning insanely about "kitchens of distinction". Take no notice, because it goes without saying this is one band who won't be getting flushed away.

Roy Wilkinson
Sounds, August 26 1990

Pop Club, Kentish Town

EVENTS like this - a genuine carefree celebration - happen so rarely that obviously circumstances dictate pop policy, rooted here in a shared tour that's taken both bands from being labelmates to stablemates.

The Popinjays bounce through their material, including the now steaming slabs of "Thinking About The Weather" (next single) and "Please Let Me Go" and they make a curious spectacle: grimly determined, a breath away from panic until they relax and bathe in the relief of sumptuous choruses, none more desirable than the newest song, "Vote Elvis".

The first thing you notice about The Kitchens is that they're awfully excited about something. The second thing is that they are dressed as women. I am closer than I care to be to Patrick, half Su Pollard, half Myra Hindley. That's sexy. They leap at once into cover-versions mode, and if we ignore the mercifully brief "Wild Thing", they produced a vivacious "Bela Lugosi's Dead" at three times the proper speed, a spellbinding tribute to Napalm Death and a version of "Heroes" that sounded like the end of the world. The guitar sound of The Kitchens is that of a giant turbine stripping its bearings; astonishingly loud, fluent melodic and metallic poisoning that makes Albini's best efforts sound like Chris Rea.

For encores both bands combine. We enjoy a tortured "Mama Mia" and "I Love You Love Me Love", which is the right side of totally gormless. Events like this seldom end on such a high note, but they took us higher and higher until we found Heaven on Earth.

Mick Mercer
Melody Maker, August 18 1990

Dublin Castle, Camden, London - December 1995
Rage: Issue 9, January-February 1995


One of the great mysteries of life was the fact that the Kitchens of Distinction were not one of the most popular bands in the country. They had everything, their own sound, clever lyrics and a devoted fanbase. Today the question is not why haven't they made the charts but why haven't they got a record contract and why must they resort to playing a show in the back room of a Camden pub?

KoD consist of three people - Dan on the drums, Patrick singing and playing bass and Julian on the guitar. Though this doesn't sound like a line-up which is likely to produce a sound much different to any of the other three piece combos around, they do.

In 'Q' magazine, a KoD album review once discussed the qualities of the keyboards. The Kitchens of Distinction have no keyboards, the reviewer was assuming that the music that he had heard could not have been made by a guitar. KoD achieve their wonderfully different sound with pedals, the bass alone has seven of them but it's Julian's guitar which makes the really incredible noise. Live he proves that the sound that they record is no fluke by faithfully recreating each one.

While Julian plays, Patrick sings earnestly about the problems that love creates. His often tender lyrics hiding his strong sense of humour. Between songs he is always keen to communicate with the audience. "You piss all over Oasis", someone shouts. "I'd love to piss on Oasis", comes Patrick's reply, closely followed with a hand covering his mouth as he realises this may cause some offence to Oasis. "In a sexual way", he adds which will probably cause Oasis more offence than the original quip. Maybe this will lead to a Kitchens of Distinction versus Oasis battle in the media which could give them the kick start they need. We can only hope. McAlmont, of McAlmont and Butler fame, is standing in the audience. He is supposed to be playing a show elsewhere in the capital but has cancelled due to throat problems. It takes Patrick little effort to persuade him to become a guest singer. For one song the beauty of KoD's music and range of McAlmont's voice combine to create one of music's perfect moments. Stuff Oasis, the only help KoD need is a recording contract.

Author unknown (Rage: Issue 9, Jan-Feb 1996)

Camden Monarch, Camden, London
New Musical Express, May 18 1996

London Camden Monarch

YOU DO remember them, of course. Saturday afternoons at Reading Festival? You're waiting to see Loop, but your friend wants to jangle. Kitchens Of Distinction were always there, with their studiously unhip appearance and killer line in lyrical hatred. And every year you briefly wondered who actually liked them.

Not many people, obviously. The Kitchens were just one name in a long list of quirk-pop failures (see also Kingmaker), attempting to be too clever for the masses. The sort who consider pop a bit too demeaning, but can't be arsed to sit down and write a novel. Probably.

Well, now they're back with all the requisite elements in place. That vaguely ethereal guitar noise (think Bark Psychosis without the mad bits), singer Patrick's quick-witted banter and their awful dress sense (PVC shirts!) are ready to be judged again. And check your nostalgia levels, because this time it's all a lot better.

Sure, the proto-shoe-gazing throbs remain 'nice', but now the Kitchens (who've dropped the Of Distinction to OD) prove they're willing to sweat a little. New single 'Feel My Genie' starts off with the usual lolloping riff, before careering into a fully-fledged, garage-punk stomper, while 'I've Long Searched For My Lover' proceeds to get ultra-shirty with a phaser pedal.

They finish by reminding us of just what we ignored first time round by knocking up a minor sonic cathedral on 'Mainly Mornings', and making the (admittedly elderly) audience randomly frug on the closing 'Third Time We Opened The Capsule'. The English Go-Betweens, anyone?

James Oldham
New Musical Express, May 18 1996, page 42