The success of Smart Casual propelled Kids In Glass Houses in to new heights, gaining momentum with every tour they went on and single they released. Smart Casual had charted reasonably in at #29 and set the Kids up for a follow-up album that could surpass its predecessor. Dirt was released on March 29th 2010, after two singles were brought out in the run up. In its first week of release, it charted 4 places higher than Smart Casual, at #25 on the UK album chart, although midweek, two days after its release, it was at #15. Dirt features guest vocals on two tracks, one includes New Found Glory, the other, more surprisingly, features Frankie Sandford, from the girl band The Saturdays.

Artbreaker I begins the album, starting with a 40 second guitar intro. When Aled Phillips’ vocals kick in, sounding more grungy and raspy, something I wasn’t really expecting from the get-go. It’s something that, once rid of the initial shock, really sounds new and different, in a good way. I must say, I was a bit sceptical at first, but I really got into the song after a listen or two. Next up, The Best Is Yet To Come, and this sounds like classic Kids In Glass Houses. The harmonies on the choruses and punchy verses are the formula for a great song. However, I can’t say I’m too fond of the chanting in the chorus, “Turn the lights out”, doesn’t really work for me. Probably my favourite song on the album, Sunshine, an epic rock ballad beginning with Phillips’ impressive falsetto, giving his voice a soft feel to it, leading up to the second half with his scratchy, harder sound. And if that wasn’t enough to grab you, the atmospheric chorus filled with raw emotion. “…cos I’ll be fine, without you, without you”, in the second half of the song after the chorus, is full of anger that you can really feel from him. Onto the second single, Matters At All, perfectly fitting for a release. Soft, melodic vocal verses with the backing vocals to match, leading up to a banging sing-along chorus. Definitely one of the better songs on the album. Then the first single, Youngblood (Let It Out), first released back in October 2009. Also great as the new single from a new chapter in the Glass Houses story. With an awesome guitar riff intro to hook you in, then Aled’s vocals, which almost sound like Kings Of Leon at the beginning. The chorus sounds perfect for a live show, the backing cheers of “Hey” would fit perfectly at a gig. Lilli Rose, brings the inevitable slower song to the album, which sort of let them down last album. Thankfully, the song is only soft and slow in the verses, which actually work by the way, before they bring it home in the chorus. My favourite part is nearer the end when the song comes to a pause, before a harmonic backing vocal comes in, and the “Lilli Rose” is sang, followed by a rest by everything, before the song comes back into life. Giving Up, having a “chilled-out” feel, like described in the previous album, actually has presence, something the slower songs didn’t have on Smart Casual. It keeps you hooked in and interested throughout. With an impressive bridge and chorus, this song is a sign that their slower songs are improving. For Better Or Hearse, ironically, is one of the more upbeat and catchy songs, not in keeping with its title. It has a great energy from the beginning, and all the way throughout. “Never gonna see, never gonna see another day” is one of my favourite parts in the song. Also, the brass instruments between the chorus and verses are a surprising, and welcome, addition. Undercover Lover, featuring guest vocals from Frankie Sandford, starts of quiet, almost haunting with just a guitar riff over the vocals. Then Sandford comes in just before the chorus begins, and throughout it also. If you’re a fan of The Saturdays, you probably wouldn’t even recognise one of its members was singing. Her vocals sound great, though. The chorus has a charming feel to it, I’m not sure how to describe it. Maybe Tomorrow continues the guest vocalists, with the guys from New Found Glory dropping in to help out. I can’t say, however, that they really make an impression. They’re involved in the acapella chorus and the chorus that follows, but probably wouldn’t have been missed if they weren’t there. The Morning Afterlife is a slow song, which has a raspy vocal from Phillips, making him sound like a completely different singer. Although it’s a slow song, it’s actually impressive. It’s tender and emotive, completely in a class of its own compared to the slower songs on Smart Casual. Next, Hunt The Haunted, and Phillips brings back the falsetto in the beginning of the verse, the song’s chorus feels a little slow, but during the second half of it, when there’s a long note rising in pitch, it starts sounding better on the ears. It’s a decent song, but one that isn’t below par in keeping with the quality of the rest of the album. Bringing the album to a close, Artbreaker II, carrying on from where they left off in the beginning. Although I do enjoy the sound of the Artbreakers, I’m not really sure of the point of having two songs at each end, rather than just one bigger song. Nevertheless, it finishes the album off in explosive style.

In my opinion, it’s a step in the right direction from their debut. They’ve matured, improved and outshined Smart Casual. Impressive ballads and epic rock anthems. 8.5/10