To Kill a King: Word of Mouth (Self Released)
Free DL (Plus 500 copies already given away free)
London indie band To Kill A King have a new EP out. It’s free to download & it’s highly recommended that you do just that (download it for free) according to Katie Shepherd because, as she explains below, it’s one hec of a great EP.
We live in a world in which DJs and electronically produced music reigns. This is not necessarily a sentiment to be criticized; it’s simply a fact. The value of bands who make music on instruments (primarily of the guitar, drum, and bass combination) has perhaps dwindled due to a surplus of availability combined with the current generation’s belief that the art form itself has grown archaic. After all, it’s Justin Bieber’s world; we all just live in it.
However, every once in a while, a band still comes along with something important to say and the instrumentation to appropriate their message. To Kill a King, a five-piece signed to Virgin Records and based out London, is one such band.
I feel that it is my responsibility as reviewer to be completely honest here. After I saw the guys perform one of their much-talked about guerrilla gigs in Manchester, I knew that I had encountered something special. In a culture of music journalism predominately consumed with slating shit musicians (as it is both fun to write and to read), it is perhaps all the more important then to speak ardently about bands who are great deal better than simply ‘good’. Personally, To Kill a King’s last EP, My Crooked Saint, is in my all-time top ten. Likewise, I’ve seen them twice since that first gig and each time is better than the last. Comparable to The National in sound and Local Natives in purity, I find myself constantly returning to the music of To Kill a King for a bit of sense making in today’s trendy music culture.
Last month, the band released their new EP, Word of Mouth, as a free download and if my Twitter and Facebook feeds are correct, most everyone is listening to it. The EP opens with the aching ‘Howling’ (hear above) which ebbs and flows into the progression of full turmoil and then ends with a sudden sense of defeat. Perhaps the first thing which will grab your attention is Ralph Pelleymounter’s vocals. Haunting and full, he never treads over vocals but pulls them with intention, giving each lyric a sense of importance.
‘Funeral’, in apparent opposition with its title, unfolds with a brighter energy and carries a contagious rhythm most notable on guitar and drums. The chorus resonates with, “I must make more friends; they’ll be hanging at my funeral, just to make my parents proud, just to make my parents smile.” The concept elicits both sincerity and depth as well as a touch of the unfortunate nature of life. This was the song I dismissed at first listen, but now, it is the song I can’t stop contemplating.
Mellowing out in ‘Besides She Said’, the track gives the poetry of Pelleymounter’s lyrics a chance to take the focus. Once again in conflict both lyrically and musically, the verses offer a soothing folk rhythm while the chorus expands and collapses in the same forceful motion as an accordion would.
A bit more energy comes through on the next tracks ‘Wolves’ (see above) and ‘Rays’. The entire EP sounds like it was done in one solid take instead of being an over-produced effort, but ‘Wolves’ specifically gives the impression that it was taken from a live performance. The vocals of the full five show through on both tracks, displaying their signature depth of voices on the chorus and is comparable to the trend of folk bands who also dabble in chamber pop sounds like Admiral Fallow. Likewise, ‘Rays’ is the Springsteen moment with every instrument going full force for the entire 3:40.
The EP concludes with To Kill a King doing what they do best; evoking every last emotion that usually lies dormant in the pit of the stomach. A cover of Feist’s ‘Let It Die’ off her 2004 album of the same name, the track was already lyrical perfection before the guys got their hands on it. However, the echoing keyboard and almost exhausted cadence sets the scene for vocals which are devastatingly honest. The harsh reality of the conclusion will sit on you until it eventually consoles you. It is stunning.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but in case you’re yet to get the point, download To Kill a King’s free Word of Mouth EP. It’s better than good.