Kevin Tihista's Red Terror - On This Dark Street On This Dark Street… Fetching

Review: Kevin Tihista’s Red Terror – On This Dark Street

Published on March 20th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams

Perhaps best remembered for his 2001 album Don’t Breathe a Word, Californian singer/songwriter Tihista, formerly of Triple Fast Action and Veruca Salt, returns from a seven-year hiatus blighted by “personal, financial and musical difficulties” with a record that fully deserves to attract renewed acclaim.

Tihista’s smooth, milky and carefully enunciated vocals feel endearingly geeky, like a lank-haired 1970s geography teacher singing a folk protest song, and this seemingly innocent exterior sure packs a punch when it conceals lines like, on really rather beautiful opener “Taking it to the Streets (Again)”, “There’s a million reasons why she is leaving / Number one, she hates the fact that I’m breathing / Not to mention all the drugging and drinking / Well, to me that’s just a typical evening”, just one early example of this album’s glittering away of darkly wry lyrical show-stoppers.

“Bats” is an instant classic, a bitter-sweet melting pot of The Clientele, Elliott Smith and Shack, not to mention the proud owner of the addictive refrain “I give her one good reason to stay here / She gives me two good reasons to leave”, while “Jack K” balances out its spine-tingling air of gloom with such gems as “I’m sorry that I ripped the cover off your Jack Kerouac novel / But I had to blow my nose / I had to blow my nose” and “Somewhere around Santa Cruz County / I was forced to throw out your cassette / I know you think Dylan’s a genius / But that doesn’t justify two plays on the deck”.


Stately, Pavement-meets-The-Band march “North Carolina” could be a hit in some parallel universe where ending a chorus with “I’m gonna have to just kill you both” wouldn’t preclude it from becoming so, and the album then takes a turn for the gently melancholic before exploding back with the sad, sinister but certainly memorable “Don’t Let Him In” (sample lyric: “He forced his way inside, promising presents / I know I should have refused, but god knows I like presents”).

Closer “Country Road” provides another highlight, a plinky-banjo’d, Kinks-ian trot that provides a welcome change of pace, notably ending a melodically sweet-toothed yet lyrically acerbic record with “oh, everything will be okay”. On This Dark Street is in the main several classes above ‘okay’; it’s a classy, witty and luxurious return from a songwriter with a rare and precious knack for successfully combining the humorous with the heartfelt. Fans of Morrissey and Malkmus apply within.

Rocksucker says: Eight Quails out of Ten!

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On This Dark Street is out now on Broken Horse Records.


About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.