Published on March 9th, 2011 | by Clara Cullen
The King Blues: Punk & Poetry Track by Track Review
Last of the Dreamers:
A short but effective intro track which sets up the theme of the album. It’s a call from the King Blues to all the outcasts, misfits and mavericks. The lyrics will be seen by some as inspiring, while other more jaded fellows will stare warily at the ideology of it all. The track itself is sparse instrumentally with just sustained chords, a constant drum beat and Itch’s vocals. However, it sets the tone up nicely to what should be expected: anthemic politically charged songs.
We Are Fucking Angry:
This is the most overtly political song on the album; it’s clearly a commentary on having a Tory led coalition in government. The King Blues have never shied away from political lyricism, but this song is clearly meant to be their protest song. Guitars are turned up to 11, Itch is spitting out the lyrics, rather than his usual spoken word style. You can easily tell that the anger is real and visceral. There is use electronic over dubbing which creates a catchy yet crunchy counterpoint within the song. It’s exciting, the anger is primal and it will surely become a fan favourite.
Set The World On Fire:
This is the latest King Blues single. It’s probably the song most influenced by the sound of their previous album, and you can easily see it slotting into that album. Once again, there’s a common theme of hope and starting all over again. The chorus is extremely catchy, and I can see this single being one of their ‘radio’ hits. The album as a whole may contain better lyrics that that in this song, but it’s damn catchy!
This is a bit of a strange track; it shouldn’t really be seen as a song, more as a transitional phase or interlude. The story told is a tad bit weird but the music accompanying it fits nicely. It’s very theatrical, almost vaudeville circus like. Itches voice fades out and leaves us with an eerily sustained chord which then bleeds perfectly into the next track.
The Future Is Not What It Used To Be:
This track opens with a swaggering trumpet melody; the guitars and drums are accentuating the reggae 2, 4 beats. This is a track that seems to have been heavily influenced by both Under The Fog, and Save The World, Get The Girl. Musically it’s a very rhythmic, with hints of The King blue’s ska background, while maintaining the story based focus of the previous album. The two blend well together, once again the song lyrics are partly political, with calls to fight back etc. The song doesn’t sound like anything else on this album, probably because it is the most ska/punk influenced, and I think old time King Blues fans will be very happy this track.
I Want You:
Sadly this isn’t a cover of the Elvis Costello song of the same name! However, that’s fine because it’s upbeat and has a very summery vibe to it. It feels upon first listen to be this albums ‘I’ve got love’, it shares the same kind of optimism and sense of fun. The lyrics and witty and clever, and the overall tone of this song is just one of excitement, while expressing a simple idea about wanting to be with someone. I particularly like the bridge, and it use of close harmony; it’s just a song that leaves you feeling good. Love it.
5 Bottles of Shampoo:
A spoken word version of this song has been making the live set for well over a year now, so fans should recognise this song. There have been slight lyrical changes, but overall the message of choice and empowerment still rings loudly. Itch has always been a very talented lyricist, and he often shows it best with his spoken word tracks, such as the previous album’s ‘What If Punk Rock Never Happened’. Lyrically while not the same obviously; it shares the same spine tingling intensity. The lyrics are some of the best on the album including this wonder ‘Don’t you dare tell women what they can and can’t do, when it was a woman who gave life to you’. Overall just a very inspiring song, the use of trumpets, piano and a steady drum beat adds to the in intensity and atmosphere of it all.
This is very much a ‘character’ song, based around the darker aspects of growing up. There’s good use of female vocal harmony in the song, which makes the listener’s ear pick up a bit, as this is unique to the album. The chorus is short and to the point, the guitars are once again chipping away at a ska groove. This song is a interesting break from the rest of the album, as it returns to the story telling style that The King blues are good at.
This is sole ukulele track of the album. It’s stripped back and raw, just itch and a uke. It’s a short commentary on the rise of far right groups like The EDL and The BNP. Itch tells us that in the past ‘your granddad didn’t vote for fascists, he shot them down’. The king Blues have been part of a number of anti-racism campaigns, and often use their songs to comment on wider social issues. It’s refreshing to hear just a uke based song, as the song seems more pure and poignant because of its sparse instrumentation.
The obvious single on the album, fast paced lyrics, with punk style guitars. The lyrics are less focused on political commentary, more on love and life. Again it’s a very anthemic song with Itch singing ‘Participate, don’t spectate, become the view’. It’s loud, it’s crass and above all it’s a fun song you can use to escape from the dreariness of the mundane.
Does Anybody Care? :
This is a big song, and I mean BIG. It’s loud, blazing with confidence and makes strong judgments. It has a very classic rock vibe to it. The guitars are chugging away persistently, the chord progression is catchy and moves the song along, and the use of group vocal harmony adds a sprinkle of greatness to the whole song. The lyrics once again tackle the politics of the moment with lyrics such as ‘The final straw that broke the camel’s back, they took away the welfare and then gave me the sack’. Obviously lyrics which are so bold, and make a statement could end up polarizing less opinionated fans. However, history has shown that a bit of rock n’ roll grit and gut never hurt a band like The Clash.
Everything Happens For A reason:
This is by far the most introspective and personal song on the album. It’s a song about Itch becoming a father and responsibilities that that entails. A rough version of this song has been floating around the web for a while. However, the finished product is a much slicker affair. Instrumentally it’s a little different for The King Blues, there use of lush sweeping strings, piano and counter harmony. Soon we’re on familiar ground though with roaring guitars and thumping drums, this however doesn’t take away the poignancy of the song which really is quite touching.
What’s your view? Let us know in the comments section below…