In the spring of 2008, Kids In Glass Houses broke away from a bustling live music scene in South Wales and quickly caught the ear of the industry. A gutsy blend of power-pop and pop-punk with mosh-worthy hardcore graft, their debut album, Smart Casual, was a vibrant amalgam of 80s new wave influences and post-Strokes-era spikiness that dug its claws in while the “New Rock Revival” was in full swing. By combining the raucous energy of US pop-punk with the angular riffs of indie rock, Kids In Glass Houses smashed through the sound barrier.
The band’s breakthrough single, Give Me What I Want, had been playlisted by BBC Radio 1, a moment that marked a huge turning point in the group’s fortunes. Going from relative obscurity to acquiring national radio exposure “was obviously just such a huge, huge feeling” Kids In Glass Houses’ lead singer, Aled Phillips, tells Dig! “It kind of took us away from just being like hobbyists and then actually becoming something that was a bit more universal.”
Now, more than 15 years after Smart Casual was released, Phillips reflects upon the group’s debut album with an understandable mixture of nostalgia and pride. “I think that album’s got a bit of a timelessness to it,” he admits. “I think it’s because it is just five people playing music. There’s no bells and whistles. It’s quite honest.”
Listen to ‘Smart Casual’ and buy the 15th-anniversary vinyl here.
The backstory: “We grew up going to hardcore punk shows”
Back in 2004, Aled Phillips formed Kids In Glass Houses after finishing his GCSEs, naming the group after a lyric in the song Tip Your Bartender, by Glassjaw. While he was growing up, Phillips had mostly been inspired by US pop-punk acts such as Green Day, but when he discovered the Welsh post-hardcore scene unfolding on his doorstep as a teenager, he soon found himself diving headfirst into the local gig circuit.
“In the earlier days we were kind of listening to a lot of the rock music that was happening around the time,” Phillips tells Dig!, citing Funeral For A Friend, whose debut album, Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, had spearheaded a new movement in Welsh music, as a formative influence. “We grew up going to hardcore punk shows and stuff like that, ’cause there’s quite a big scene for that in Wales.” It was at these shows that Phillips crossed paths with many of the local musicians who, in time, would eventually go on to play on Smart Casual.