Review Summary: who wants to live and die tonight?
“Holy Christos” kicks off the whole affair with a coquettish bout of rocking foreplay, but Sex
isn’t about to let you reach climax any time soon. The fleeting moments of edging crescendo exist only to underscore a dreadful and lightless narrative that ties the frayed threads of King Dude’s latest offering into a dusty quilt of drunken isolation and sadistic libido. The bluesy rock careening off the walls of “Swedish Boys” might be little more than a mirage of whimsy when the mouth is most parched, but it’s these numerous excursions into the realms of narcotic indulgence that serve as the coal which fuels this train of hedonism and psychopathy. Without them the impact of tracks like the whiskey-dicked “Who Taught You How To Love” or the rusty blade of “Prisoner” wouldn’t cut nearly as deep as they deserve, and the contrast between the faux-wood paneling of dark folk and the sputtering carburetors of defrocked post-punk saturate the coarse brushstrokes of depressive rock with a paranoid acuity for moody backlighting. It's all rather drab until you scrape away the superficial crud that encases the jaded soul of King Dude's modus operandi, but once you dig into the marrow of this bloodsucking daemon you'll find there's a lot more soul to it than those first meetings suggested. "I Wanna Die At 69" could very well settle into the surrounding furniture on a half-assed flyby, but a close ear should find itself helplessly drawn to its metallic acidity as T.J. Cowgill waxes poetic with the charisma of a serial killer, "I like the look of her in the light of my lord / she's wrapped up tighter than a telephone cord / I hold the crown - she holds the sword"
. Indeed there is a grand sense of purposefulness that guides the malign motions of Sex
, and its beguiled evangelicalism adds an inextricable aire of curiosity that casts astray any vestiges of repulsion as it envelopes you in its fascinating marriage of religious fervor and roadside desperation. It's a collection of hymns for the damned if you will, with lines like "I was dead and alone and I held what I owned / Just a bottle of sin that I've tried to disown / Since the day I was born the devil has made me his home"
serving as a vehicle for the existential brooding that prods away at the tender heart of both songwriter and listener alike.
Inhabiting the strange spaces between the misanthropic timbre of countryside alcoholism and the cotton-mouthed insincerity of amphetamine laced post-punk, King Dude's Sex
is an album driven purely by its own drearily wayfaring impulses - and it's all the more charming for it. "I've been up for a week and I swear I'm doing fine"
underscores the closing ballad “Shine Your Light”, and aptly surmises the entirety of the past 40 minutes with a mysterious waltz between crippling denial and brutal honesty. It's not so much troubled as it is apathetic towards the tenets of heartbreak, carving a modest habitat in a broken world where sunlight seems void of its life-affirming promises. Somehow, by stripping away all but the faintest glimmerings of pearly sheen, Sex
triumphs through a carnal ardor that beckons your ear's hasty return. Perhaps it's how Cowgill bends the familiar chords of dustbowl rock and broils them with the slouching disposition of a White Light-
era Swans downtrodden with the burden of religious guilt, or maybe it's the pungent reek of nicotine-stained fingers silently gnawing at the crackled tenets of nihilism itself that make it vibe so hard. At any rate, what King Dude has offered us with his sixth full-length album is a looking glass into the soul of a weathered driver white-knuckling the wheel of life, feverishly transfixed on a grievous escapism painted in shades of faded sepia and musty grey.