With their first full-length album, When Fish Ride Bicycles, The Cool Kids finally get to prove to the world they really are that cool. After a string of impressive mixtapes and a years-long period of record label uncertainty, the Midwestern duo, consisting of Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish, delivers a polished, cohesive, record that accurately represents just what those kids are – and have always been — all about.
Put simply, The Cool Kids are all about the beat. That’s not to say that they don’t also kill the mic lyrically, but there’s something about the pair that hails back to the Golden Age; that time when samples, sound-bytes, and boom-bap ruled the game. The Cool Kids seem only to have diversified their sound on When Fish Ride bicycles, creating a record that has a different feeling and texture song by song. The album begins with “Rush Hour Traffic.” A booming beat makes the track relevant and a snapping snare tweaks it to lend a hint of the old days.
While at the same time staying true to their roots and inspirations, The Cool Kids take on a whole new sound by layering old noises with new techniques. When Fish Ride Bicycles is a symbol of how far The Cool Kids have come since their days of MySpace beats and mixtapes, and it’s got the chops to prove it. Hip-hop legends like Pharell, Bun B, Ghostface Killah, and Travis Barker of Blink-182 guest star on the album, each adding his own flare to the feel of the track. It’s no trouble to find which tracks Pharrell’s gotten his hands on—both “Get Right” and “Summer Jam” smack of the funkiness for which Pharrell is famous. Likewise, the Ghostface collabo “Penny Hardaway” bumps just like a classic Wu-Tang joint.
When Fish Ride Bicycles also features collaborations with lesser-known artists like Asher Roth (think “I Love College”), Mayer Hawthorne, Chip tha Ripper, and Boldy James, along with budding female vocalists Maxine Ashley and Tennille. With a packed cast like this one, one might make the assumption that When Fish Ride Bicycles is a clusterfuck of aimless blather, as albums with multiple collaborations so often can be these days. But The Cool Kids own this first record, as well they should. The Kids’ endearing signature hipster style weaves its way through each track and is discernable even through the big-name beats, making When Fish Ride Bicycles just all-around cool.