My association with To Kill A King goes way back to my days with Battery In Your leg.I well remember running a post on the previous incarnation Kid Id from guy’s Leeds Uni days. When they formed To Kill A King I was lucky enough to be privy to early material before most people, in fact I was the first person to ever blog the band !! I wanted to preface this review not to say ,’Oh look I was one of the first’. More to say iv’e been pleased to offer support as they have developed over the last four years.
To be asked to review A band you have had a long standing relationship with is never easy. When I first saw them play live on a Sunday night at London’s Notting Hill Art’s Club it was still cool to like Mumford and Sons. The whole Mumfords thing is of course another story , there is no doubt that without the support of Communion in the bands development this superb album might of been a different beast.
I reviewed that night for BIYL ‘Leeds collective To Kill A King also happen to be one of my favourite new acts around. Developing from the embers of critically-acclaimed Kid iD, they have a sound that’s genre-busting. Live, they deliver some great harmonies built ‘round some clever melodies. Lyrically, cutting in the mould of Divine Comedy. They are a band on the upward curve! ‘Johnny’s In A Coma’ – the set opener – is a hit in the making and lyrical genius from the pen of Ralph Pellymounter. These classically trained guys can really play and all the hard work in the rehearsal room has paid off if this confident, well-received set is anything to go by.’
So onto the longplayer opening with an atmospheric balled ‘I work nights and you work days’ showcasing Ralph’s vocal over Elbowesque strings and Piano. It’s kind of a perfect opener though I feel it could of equally of closed the record, it oozes class . My memory may play tricks with me but I’m pretty sure that ‘Cold Skin’ was one of those early demo’s that they first sent me. Sure it’s reworked into an all together more polished track what remains though are the wonderful lyrics . Lyrics to me mean possibly more than melody or structure songs without meaning are just that as far as I am concerned.
Musically there are sure to be comparisons to the fashionably devil incarnate Mumford & Sons (oh where did all you people who fawned little lionman go!). What should be made clear and I feel is important is the fact that To Kill A King have been honing this sound for a good four years. They are not a band jumping onto a now familiar genre bandwagon. If anything I would say comparisons to The National are more in keeping ‘Wolves’ for me is maybe more radio friendly than the aforementioned single ‘Cold Skin’ or hymnic Funeral. Sitting just over halfway in the thirteen track offering ‘Choices’ is a painful stripped back cut of angst almost Elliott Smith in it’s lyrical sentiment building to angelic harmonies before ebbing and flowing to a climax.
If you give this album a cursory play then you will make a grave error, you need a quiet environment,decent speakers and most of all a keen ear. There are subtle layers abounding through ‘Children that Start Fires’ a real slice of Nu-Folk at it’s very best. Fictional State for those of us who having followed the band from inception is an old friend, just listen closely to the lyrics totally brilliant.
At times in our lives we all have high’s and lows what this album delivers is thirteen cuts over fifty five minutes that soundtrack these moments. This is what set’s it apart, this is why you will revisit it as you navigate a course through life’s journey.
Which kind of brings us back to where we came in via ‘I work night’s and you work days’