The Pale Fountains' Ian Broudie-produced second record ditches a couple of the scatterbrained influences of the debut, so it makes for a slightly more consistent listen. Not all of the odd wrinkles are abandoned, though; they still sound as if they are trying too hard to distinguish themselves from the rest of the flock.
The Fountains' strength lies in folksy pop, but on a few too many occasions, the incessant smoothness and inability to latch onto one style holds them back. Surprisingly, the title track is almost synth-pop, but a smattering of horns makes sure it isn't completely such. On "September Sting," they try their hands at Laurel Canyon country-rock and fall flat on their jumpers. When they want to, they can write finely tuned, sophisticated pop songs that are quite pleasant. Instrumentally, "Stole the Love" doesn't sound a great deal different from the Smiths. "Shelter" and "Jean's Not Happening" are fine strummers. Though a decent record and an improvement over the debut, Kitchen Table frustrates. They were too anxious to zig or zag when they could have stayed the course.
After establishing themselves as a cult band, the Pale Fountains eventually broke up, with Michael Head forming the similarly cultish Shack. (AMG)
02. Stole The Love
03. Jean's Not Happening
04. Bicycle Theives
06. 27 Ways To Get Back Home
07. Bruised Arcade
08. These Are The Things
09. It's Only Hard
10. ...From Across The Kitchen Table
12. September Sting