The King Blues – Long Live The Struggle
Reviewed by Natalie Campbell
Credited for burgeoning the punk-rock movement of the late-1900s, London has been the home of many artists using the scene as a public challenge to “war-monger politicians and their courtiers.” One such band is The King Blues, who not only are from London, but also credit notorious acts such as Public Enemy, The Clash, The Specials, Black Flag and Minor Threat as their influences.
With three LPs released after the band’s formation in 2004, The King Blues announced their split in April of this year. However, fans were secure in the knowledge that they would get a fourth LP, Long Live The Struggle, in their hands in July as a follow-up to 2011’s Punk & Poetry.
Beginning with We Are What We Own, Long Live The Struggle immediately grabs the listener’s attention through a tune that rings familiar and comfortable. Vocalist Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox croons an unapologetic tale with undertones of politics, continuing throughout following track We Are The Future.
The third track-listing, Modern Life Has Let Me Down, shows an increase in tempo and is a clear highlight of the album – highlighting the band’s origins and earlier mentioned influences. At times it can be hard to translate politics to music, while maintaining a relatable message through lyrics and instrumentals. However, this track hits that nail right on the head.
Wasted Words brings a decrease in tempo though an increase in the imagery. The instrumentals are strong throughout the track, as they are similarly tight throughout all tracks, and eagerly compliments Fox’s vocals. At times, however, the instrumental backing provides an eager break from the vocals, which, at times, sound repetitive and distant despite changes in approach.
Can’t Bring Me Down is direct with guest vocalist Jason Butler of Letlive – spitting out words faster than the listener can comprehend, and maybe that’s the point of it all. The fifth track is another highlight of album, demonstrating The King Blues adaptability with guest vocalist Butler. While the title of the song is screamed repetitively at the close of the track, it’s entire composition is something that suggests the track would be perfectly suited to days when you just don’t want to get out of bed and face the world, but do so anyway, knowing that there’s someone – even if they’re an iPod or stereo apart from you – out there who is there with flawless encouragement.
While a sense of déjà vu is felt when listening to a few of the tracks back-to-back, there are clear highlights such as Modern Life Has Let Me Down and Can’t Bring Me Down. Other tracks, such as This Is My Home attempts to convey important messages in an unfitting tempo. Imagery is implied to assist the listener is discerning the self-constructed refuge they reside in from reality, but it’s only effective when close attention is paid. The track is an example of this where, in the first listening, it is hard to understand the message of the song until, what sounds to be a news report, is read regarding a shooting and the listener feels it’s necessary to replay the track to properly understand the news report’s context.
The closing tracks of the LP follow in a similar manner, with the meaning being lost in translation. As the final album of The King Blues, it’s a crucial part of the band’s history and one that fans should welcome. The tracks and their messages are fitting, but at times they’re easily overlooked.