Reviewed by James Lewis
This is the band's fifth album and one could be forgiven for not knowing quite what to expect. After all this is their first album without Sam Taylor producing or managing them, and statements during interviews were warning of a dark and heavy album. The general opinion at the moment seems to be that Sam was fairly heavy-handed in influencing the band - however this album is not as different as you might have been led to expect. True, the lush vocal harmonies are no more, but the backing vocals are still melodic and catchy, and the production, by grunge producer Brendan O'Brien, is more open than previous stuff, but it doesn't expose an unrecognisable band. Ty Tabor's guitar-work is probably more varied than ever and the band seems to have lost much of their Beatles sound. And if the lyrics are darker than some of their earlier work, then it merely repeats the combination of disillusionment with man and suffering along with hope and faith in God that was evident in songs like "Don't Fall On Me", "King" and "Mr Wilson", even if "Cigarettes" is possibly their most tortured song yet. Even "Don't Care", a song about refusal to be a doormat, rounds off by saying ". . .I just care about you". "Complain" has as memorable a hook as they've ever done, and is a pointed song about the West taking the basics for survival for granted, and moaning about our luxuries, all presented without finger-pointing. Still, what can you expect from a band that has the integrity and humility of these guys. I have to admit to being unclear as to what "Pillow" means, but it gets me hopping around the room like Bill and Ted on a most excellent adventure - way cool! King's X have originality, a retro sound, grunge, killer tunes, basically everything you should need to make it big. A pit-bull terrier of an album - grabs you by it's teeth and you'll have to prise it off (the CD player).
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