This is the best album the Kinks have yet made, but, paradoxically, may be the last they will release in this country. This is particularly unfortunate, for it shows great improvement in the Kinks’ music since Face to Face and wide possibilities for the future. And, for the first time, Dave Davies, Ray Davies’ younger brother and lead guitarist, sings lead on his own compositions (which are, incidentally, brilliant). It would be a pity not to hear more of him.
“Death of a Clown,” the first of Dave’s three songs, is a melancholy, almost bitter, work of carnivals, death, drink, and other fun things. Dave is at his brutal and cynical best in “Love Me Till the Sun Shines,” the opening track of side II, but is wickedly sly in “Funny Face.” Such schizophrenia.
Ray Davies is, however, in no way slipping as a musician. His “David Watts,” one of the finest tracks of the album, clearly shows this. It has an excellent vocal, fine, driving instrumentation, and some of the best lyrics Ray Davies has written. And it is pretty schizo, too. “Waterloo Sunset” could be a sequel to “David Watts” (they are the closing and opening tracks of the album, respectively); the narrator of “Waterloo Sunset” could be the worshipper of David Watts after many years. He has mellowed and relaxed, no longer does he envy the world, instead he watches it and smiles inwardly.
“Harry Rag,” “End of the Season,” “Tin Soldier Man” are all excellent, and typically Kinky tracks featuring heaps of humor, cynicism, perception and irony. This is where the Kinks are best; they seem to know this and perform with enthusiasm. Some tracks (“No Return,” “Lazy Old Sun”), however, don’t seem to interest the Kinks; they sound bored and uninspired.
When they are doing their things, the Kinks are marvelous to listen to. The listener is amused and confused, enchanted and entertained, and always questioning. And Something Else is the Kinks at their questionable best, their thing.