Thanks to Radiohead's Greenwood brothers paying respects to their unique take on guitar-driven rock music, Kitchens Of Distinction may at last receive the recognition they deserve. Arguably more famous during their time for their homo-erotic lyrics and cover art; their music often took a back seat in the media's eyes. The sad truth is they made some of the most beautiful, emotionally-charged music of modern times. Early releases such as the 'Elephantine' EP demonstrated their melodic intent but despite excellent reviews they never quite achieved to reach beyond a cult following. Their sound was original but could be best compared to A R Kane's dub-heavy atmospherics tacked onto the dreamy soundscapes pioneered by The Cocteau Twins.
The differences between 'Strange Free World' and 1992's 'The Death Of Cool' are paper-thin in terms of sonic effects. Julian Swales's guitar stylings gave the impression there were 1,000 guitarists in the group such was the dense wall of sound conjured up by his histrionics; vitally the records still retained a melodic edge but now they often remained submerged amongst near-impenetrable layers. Understandably it seemed their time had come and gone in terms of commercial potential so it's safe to say that if 'Love Is Hell' failed to win listeners they wouldn't win any more here. That said there's some excellent material on offer particularly the unusually delicately played guitar featured in 'Mad As Snow' (with its gloriously blissed-outro), 'On Tooting Broadway Station' and 'Can't Trust The Waves'; 'When In Heaven' is a more uptempo number which provides refereshing light relief following on from the preceding 'Gone World Gone' as Fitzgerald's voice is drowned out by Swales's work. At its worst, in the case of 'Blue Pedal' there isn't even a tangible melody and the formula starts to tire a little. More noticeable still is Fitzgerald's maturing voice which now recalled The Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler's trademark croak. Nevertheless this remains many fans' favourite album because it is their least commercial offering.