The King Blues
Save The World, Get The Girl
, October 27th, 2008 12:23
Some bands exist to write a bunch of songs and have a little dance. Others bands – the best bands – seem capable of capturing changing moods, memories or emotion, or soundtracking a night out, a love affair, a long hot summer, a crucial period of ones life.
The King Blues - who number three on paper, but six on the stage - are doing exactly that via the often-critically dismissed but nevertheless invigorating medium of (broadly-speaking) ska punk. One listen to this, their second album, and you just know the songs within will be interlocked with the future memories of many of the band’s young followers. You just know that there are moments here that will transport tomorrow’s ex-punks back to the heady, tumultuous and economically-chaotic days of the late 00s.
Graduates of this decade’s anti-war/anti-globalisation/WTO movements, The King Blues’ main strength is their ability to flit magpie-like between various sounds – a dose of sugary doo-wop here, a blast of Balkan folk there – without ever sounding like cultural tourists. Their other asset comes in the form of frontman/ukulele player Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox who lays his life bare through a set of songs that chart his journey from a teenage runaway (self-described as “Classic bullying material, strictly speaking / Four foot tall with a three foot mohican”) who finds salvation and camaraderie in the capital’s creatively fertile squatting scene on air-punching anthem ‘Let’s Hang The Landlord’, on to the old Europe polka-punk of ‘For You My Darling’ and beery, teary-eyed tale of friendship ‘My Boulder’.
It’s all delivered in the same tradition of street level troubadours ranging from the politicised folk protest of Ewan MacColl and Billy Bragg through the pan-international sounds of The Clash, The Specials and Gogol Bordello and onto the urbanised romanticism of Pete Doherty and Mike Skinner, without aping any one influence directly.
It also happens to be an album as thoroughly London as fox shit, chicken bones and black bogeys.
And though Save The World… tackles modern politics it does it with a tongue in the cheek: “I’m all for worker’s rights,” sings Fox, “As long as I don’t have to work...". More than anything though this is an album about what it is to be young, alive and free at the dawn of a century that is ours for the shaping.