King Elementary start off “Kudzu” with “For the Birds”, a track that shows a tremendous amount of the band’s influence coming from the psychedelic sixties (the guitar solo present on the track sound a hell of a lot like “Break On Through”). Other tracks, like “Thief of Hearts” maintains this earlier influence but really allows Morgan’s vocals to look at bands like the Von Bondies and The Strokes for form and style. What is a nice move for King Elementary is the slightly-slower tones of “Hit The Mirror”, a track that has Morgan’s vocals achieve a Neil Young-like sound, which proves to be a great fit for the dramatic and heavy guitar riffs that dominate the track.
Continuing this slightly slower tempo for “Rebecca”, Will Randolph’s bass lines during this track really force individuals to listen in and acknowledge the maturity of the player. The bass lines are continually in a prominent position on the entirety of “Kudzu”, but really take the stage during “Rebecca”. “Sand and Romance” tries to incorporate synthesizers to the sound of King Elementary, but the addition seems to be a little too artificial amongst the very heart-felt and sincere music of the rest of the track. After a track or two of spinning their wheels, King Elementary really revolutionizes their sound with “Satisfactory”, a track that simultaneously calls the spirits of both Against Me! and the masses of Hedwig-like glam stars for the heart present on this track. This 180 is shocking in context and really shakes the cobwebs off anyone who may have dozed off during the band’s rut days.
Interestingly, even with the large jump made from “Sand and Romance” to “Satisfactory”, the follow-up “Far Too Familiar” honestly sounds as if King Elementary went to take a smoke break while another band took their studio time. Gone are the psychedelic sounds and ties to the sixties, left behind is a lean, harder-rocking creature that smacks more of the current time than anything else previously. Overall, the tracks that make up “Kudzu” are a varied beast, and while they all have a professionalism to them, there is some major issue in trying to connect wholly to the listener base. The shifting in sound continually makes listeners uneasy, and while “Kudzu” coalesces towards the end, these differences are disconcerting to anyone who is listening. Here’s to hoping that King Elementary are able to tighten up their music with the next album.
Top Tracks: Kisses From The Stone, Thief of Hearts
King Elementary – Kudzu / 2005 Sweettea / 11 Tracks / http://www.kingelementary.com / http://www.sweettearecordings.com / Reviewed 03 August 2005