Review of Kyle Kinane’s I Liked His Old Stuff Better: If You Say So…

Is This Thing On? with Mike Carrozza

Mike Carrozza drinks milk Mike Carrozza. Photo Sarah Cotton.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say this: I fucking love Kyle Kinane. As a comedian, as a writer, as a human being, Kinane is solid. His involvement with any sort of project will very likely mean that I will love it or at the very least will enjoy whatever he has to do with it.

If you don’t know Kyle’s work, do yourself a favour and watch/listen to anything by him. It’s for you. Because I already have listened to all his albums, I already have seen him live, I already have been fortunate enough to speak to the man when he was in town a couple of years ago.

That being said, let’s discuss the latest special, “I Liked His Old Stuff Better.” This album/special was fantastic. His old stuff is also fantastic.

Let’s dive into track listing first. I have always loved what Kyle does for his track titles. His old albums used track listings from both Cheap Trick’s Dream Police and Kiss’ Destroyer, whereas “I Liked His Old Stuff Better”’s track listing looks like this:

1. This Track is Not Called Straight Outta Compton

2. This Track is Not Called Fuck tha Police

3. This Track is Not Called Gangsta Gangsta

(and so on)

Early into Kinane’s Death of the Party, he mentions a UK reviewer calling him “bleak and misanthropic.” On his second album Whiskey Icarus, Kinane says “I’m not on this Earth to be a goalie. I’m not here to stop somebody from accomplishing their goals. If you’re not hurting anybody, I’m here to either assist or get out of the way.” On the latest record, Kyle says “I feel good. I’m happy and I know that’s a weird stance for a comedian to take.”

There seems to be a progression into positivity through the albums, but that’s not to say that there aren’t still dark but funny moments through the latest album. Over the years, Kyle Kinane’s albums have showcased his ability to feel optimistic regardless of the difficult situations he’s navigated, whether they be imposed on him (like a situation in the album’s finale) or they’re simply Kyle being a little hard on himself (like when he said “bless you” to a cat).

Kyle Kinane. Photo- Moses Robinson.

Kyle Kinane. Photo- Moses Robinson.

There are tons of great stories on his albums.

However, on his latest release, the flow of Kyle’s stories seem more linked than on his previous efforts. Maybe it’s the presence of callbacks which haven’t been super present in his other albums. Maybe it’s that his mission statement at the beginning of the album is so strong and on message that the entire record feels like it flows thematically toward an optimism in every day life, an optimism for humanity. Even the album’s darkest bit is couched in a narrative that is closer to giving advice and wonder of the brain’s ability to repress memories.

Kyle is a captivating speaker. His process regarding his structure and word choice must be a rigorous one as it feels like not a single word is out of place. His ability to convey a story befitting of a “scumbag” with the insight and poetry of a more ‘heightened mind’ is incredible. While listening to him speak, I think about how terrible some situations are, but I never worry for him because he is in total control.

In my opinion, this album’s best moments come from:

– the story about his parents driving around town to pick up a copy of Hustler magazine because their little boy did an interview with them

– the album’s finale about seeing a licensed psychologist about repressed memories

– Kinane’s insight regarding aging and his wonder for the body’s ability to take care of itself.

Would I recommend this album? Without a question. I say go back and listen to his old stuff too. But I don’t think you’ll like those albums more than this one. Kyle has truly crafted his greatest work to date that both allows an open optimism while discussing situations that would probably otherwise upset you.

Just as he says in the opening story: “I discovered one of the keys to happiness. It was simple. All you need to do is redefine what a miracle is for yourself. Just loosen up your definition of what a miracle can be. […] All a miracle is the world letting you know that it can still surprise you.”

Let yourself be pleasantly surprised by this album. Enjoy this miracle.

Kyle Kinane’s new album I Liked His Old Stuff Better is now available on iTunes and his comedy special is on Comedy Central