Review Summary: A truly brilliant record, provoking joy, anger and love.
When the Gaslight Anthem released ‘the ’59 sound’ earlier this year, I thought that it would have to take a very, very special record to pip it to record of the year (and we’re only in October!). And the King Blues have delivered this record. Heart-burstingly feelgood, righteously angry and honestly glorious in parts, every song on this record leads to a final track which is frankly hair-raising.
If you’ve not listened to the King Blues before, here’s a brief introduction. The band has two albums, this is their sophomore effort, the other is ‘Under the Fog’. That album is excellent, and is another album I feared this one might not be able to top. But it does. (Sacrilege! Cry the avid fans of the first album, but believe me, I loved that, and this one is even better). Genre wise, one quart punk spirit added to a mix of political reggae and ska, and upbeat pop hooks. With a ukulele. And sometimes it’s acapella. What’s not to like?
The first song on the record is the latest single from this album, ‘My Boulder’.
It’s a sugar sweet, beautiful, catchy as hell ode to looking out for your friends, with a massive chorus, (watch the video on their myspace or youtube). And once again, as excited I was about the disc, I didn’t think the rest of the album would be able to keep such a consistently high quality. Perhaps I should stop being such a cynical bastard in future. The second track, ‘I got love’
is another song just as beautiful as the first, and almost as catchy. I could probably go through the album saying this track after track.
My favourite track on the album has turned out to be the title track, ‘Save the World, Get the Girl’
. It’s gentle yet gleeful, inspiring, feel good chorus (‘but I will save the world / yeah I will get the girl / I’ll dismantle a ticking time bomb with just one second to spare / and you will all point up at the sky as I fly right through the air’) is like sunshine shining through an avenue of beautiful forestry.
The lyrics on the album focus on a variety of topics, from an urban love story (‘so kiss me underneath this lamppost light / I know it smells of piss but… you look beautiful tonight’) to wry comments about mournful mornings after nights out (‘how come I’m so dehydrated / when I had so much to drink last night’) and even Arnold Schwarzenegger and the war on Iraq (‘put the oops back in troops and it seems so absurd / cause going to war to prevent war was the stupidest thing I ever heard’).
‘Let’s hang the landlord’
is about squatting, and is one of the strongest tracks, although because it was released way before the album as the first single (months ago) it doesn’t feel quite as fresh to me as the rest of the material. The last song, ‘What if Punk Never Happened’
is a poem which is set to quiet backing music, where Itch (vocals and ukulele) muses about a world without the punk movement; (‘there was no-one around to fight Margaret Thatcher / the power of the flower just couldn’t match her’) and builds up to a fantastic conclusion.
Perhaps the only weak point on the album is ‘For You My Darling’
; it is an ambitious song which perhaps overstays its welcome slightly, but I have a feeling it may be a grower. And it certainly isn’t lost looking for a hook. As good as the disc is, live the King Blues are something else. Unbelievable. Songs like ‘The Streets Are Ours’
really come into their fist-pumping own on the dancefloor.
Perhaps this is the best way to sum the record up: On ‘the Schemers, the Scroungers and the Rats’
they say ‘I’m happy doin’ nothing / they tell me it’s all a waste / but I ain’t never seen no three piece suit / with a smile on his face’. This fantastic album will put a smile on yours though.