It’s been three long years since Chicagoland duo The Cool Kids dropped their critically acclaimed EP The Bake Sale, the bouncy and coolly confident effort that put them on the fast track to leading the new school of hipster-hop. Fans waited for the imminent full-length debut … and waited … and waited. Now, with the release of When Fish Ride Bicycles, Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks deliver an album that shows the duo is as tight and polished as ever.
One element noticeably lacking from When Fish Ride Bicycles is the shock and awe, the flashy hook style that can overcrowd and cheapen a more reckless MC’s record. Look away, Kanye — these Cool Kids are supremely bold and self-assured without getting preachy or even hinting at day-glo. “Bundle Up” and “GMC” are classic Cool Kids — laid back and built upon drop-top cruising beats that jump with a surprisingly efficient minimalism. “Penny Hardaway” is a standout track merely for the fact that Chuck and Mikey hold their own with bona fide rap royalty Ghostface Killah.
“Swimsuits” pulses with a bright energy — reminiscent of early A Tribe Called Quest — and pieces together snugly with the muggy track “Summer Jam” (featuring Maxine Ashley and Pharrell) to form a cohesive summertime vibe. This is positively an album to blast on the beach or to bump on a sizzling afternoon drive.
When Fish Ride Bicycles might lack the excitement or buzz of The Bake Sale, but it is nevertheless a clean, slick effort by one of hip-hop’s coolest duos — it is confidence crystallized. Now let’s hope it’s not another three years before their next release.