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A review of...
For A Lark by King Champion Sounds
Right from the "kerching" of the cash register and the monstrous bass line that opens For A Lark, you know that King Champion Sounds aren't going to be slipping into comfortable mid-career predictability with their fourth studio album. An Anglo/Dutch band featuring members of The Ex, The Common Cold and Year of Birds, their previous output has constantly pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved by a rock band in the modern era. Previously they've mixed punk with jazz and ambience and produced one of the best albums of 2016 with their double LP To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom. Now they've expanded further, bringing in an impressive cast of guest contributors for this release including Steve Gunn, Imaad Wasif (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and composer BJ Nilsen.
The lyrics are either wildly eccentric, dry and satirical or completely on the nose depending on the song. For example, "Clouds of Money contains the line "Great big stinking clouds of money, the poor get poorer and that's not funny" whereas things get a bit more freaky on tracks like "Speaking of Crow". But the theme of money and wealth is something that comes back into the fold on "This, Mate", which is a darker and more personal take on the subject from G.W.Sok.
Elsewhere there's the brilliant "Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah" which sounds like a fucked up 60s espionage soundtrack. "Low Hanging Fruit" experiments with jazz and disorientating time signatures, and features a superb guest vocal turn from Merinde Verbeek. Then there's "What Amanda Meant" where King Champion Sounds' talented brass section (Ditmer Weertman, Chris Moerland and guest Holly Habstritt Gaal) provide a storming 70s soul touch to some swirling psychedelica and a hardened funky rhythm section. It's the sound of a restless band, once again, broadening their sonic palette.
Surprising as it is, you could actually argue that this album doesn't quite hit the eclectic dizzying heights of To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom (which was a double album after all), and that this is actually a more focused collection. But this is still an absolutely essential record for anyone who is bored senseless by the norm. Seek it out, and if possible catch them on tour, where they will no doubt take this heady mix and ramp it up another notch.