We were big fans of the debut album by Kronstadt from Lille, France, so this follow-up comes highly anticipated. The good news is that it lives up to those expectations and surpasses them with ease. Kronstadt’s latest musical journey tightens up the sound of that debut. They take the punk sound and throw a whole bunch of different influences (streetpunk, latter-day Blitz, U2 and more) into the mixer, shake it up and let the hits pour out. Whereas the lofi-sound was a defining feature of the debut, “Quai de l’Ouest” benefits from a rich and full production that really makes the songs and instruments shine.
U2 might seem like an odd influence on a modern punk album but if you listen to the delicate guitar melodies – in particular on the song “Serpent” – then you’ll hear exactly what I mean. Different, and it works perfectly. There is a much harder edge to songs like “Tunnel”, and then the piano-driven interlude that is the title song make this an album that is great to listen to from beginning to end. Follow that up with the urgency of “La Route” and you realise you can’t risk skipping a track. It is quite a different beast to their debut – more rounded, and very accomplished. Definitely a contender for best French album of the year. Tom Chapman