By Andrew Brassington
Aussie rock and roll heartthrobs KINGSWOOD have just released their sophomore album ‘After Hours, Close To Dawn’.
Kingswood’s debut album, 2014’s ‘Microscopic Wars’ felt like a band wanting to have a good time on stage, whereas ‘After Hours, Close To Dawn’ feels like a band exploring the outer reaches of the sonic universe and sending back rock samples that form this record.
For the most part, their discoveries are quite pleasing but on occasion they stray too far from their roots, and the wide range of styles jumble around to form a piece of work that begins to lack cohesion. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s quite a good record. The diversity among the songs provides an interesting listen but the blistering rock and roll energy that soaked their debut is only delivered in rare bursts here, and they know it too. “Any perspective on what we should sound like has been thrown out the window,” guitarist and co-vocalist Alex Laska said of the record.
Songs like lead single and Hottest 100 favourite ‘Creepin’ and ‘Like Your Mother’ give us a glimpse into the Kingswood we’re familiar with. ‘Library Books’ is also a cut that could’ve come straight off their first album. The energy picks up again in the second half of the album. ‘Rebel Babe’ is a refreshing return to the slick late night funk rock we sampled on ‘Golden’. However, the next track ‘Alabama White’ is confusing for the most part. If the strange beat wasn’t enough to turn even the most musically tuned ear away then the foreign whispered female vocals don’t work at all.
“The concept of rock & roll is a feeling or an energy. It was present in the early blues, it was present in jazz when swing became bebop, and it was present when rock & roll itself started,” explains Laska. Instead of making rock n roll songs they tried to harness that energy and inject it into other styles.
Sometimes this works. Late highlight ‘Atmosphere’ sounds like a huge theatrical rock piece that could’ve appeared in musical versions of The Lion King or The Jungle Book. It would’ve been nice if the album ended on a high here, but instead drags onto the shortest song on the record, the unnecessary ‘Why Do I Get Stuck When You Arrive?’, which is the definition of filler.
Throughout the whole record we are exposed to a lot of unexpected but fairly engaging vocal textures formulated by both lead vocalist Fergus Linacre, guitarist Alex Laska, and an array of charming female voices.
Kingswood are kicking goals with this album, for themselves, but only for the more open minded of their audience. As individual songs, they are great, but as a body of work, this album is an art gallery comprised of too many styles and ages. Delicate and pretty, but cluttered and confusing.
‘After Hours, Close To Dawn’ is out now.
1.Looking For Love
7.Like Your Mother
11.Why Do I Get Stuck When You Arrive?