The King Blues are angry, and it shows. Their latest effort, ‘Punk & Poetry’, is a good showcase of what band are all about – their influences, their political disillusionment and those plain and simple catchy tunes.
While elitist ska fanatics will denounce Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox for selling out by making music that has more appeal beyond the underground, they can’t stay stuck in the past and ‘Punk & Poetry’ brings them bang up to date. If you combine ska revival bands like The Specials with protest songwriter Billy Bragg and throw in a dash of Dizzee Rascal, then you come close to what this album’s about.
‘Punk & Poetry’ has the feel of a ‘Best Of’ album given the fact that many of the songs aren’t that new. The single, ‘Headbutt’, has been kicking about for about a year now and though rerecorded for the album, has lost much of its gusto from the original. ‘We Are F***ing Angry’ was released as a free download as promo for the album earlier this year, and is probably the most provocative and energetic song they currently offer. ‘Set the World on Fire’ is somewhat weak in comparison; though still a message of rebellion and political dissent, it has that over-produced pop feel that many purist fans of The King Blues will shy away from.
Between many of these highly charged tracks are slower, less memorable (though I wouldn’t go as far as filler) songs serving to break up the album and hark back to the days of ‘Under the Fog’. Indeed, ‘Dancehall’ and ‘The Future’s Not What It Used To Be’ insist that the band hasn’t forgotten their roots in vintage ska origin.
So, if you’re going to be dogmatic about what you listen to, stay away from The King Blues – they’re a band that develop over time bringing in new influences and sounds as they evolve. But if you’re just looking for something new, something a bit fresh and something a bit different, then most certainly give ‘Punk & Poetry’ a listen.