Band Name: Kingsbury
Album Name: The Great Compromise, Full-Length Album.
Best Element: The struggle of deep themes, and their artful interpretation through words and music.
Label Name: http://www.postrecords.com. Post Records.
There is no way one can simply listen to Kingsbury’s latest release The Great Compromise. One must wrestle with it; swim, gasping, through the waves of its emotional ocean; and, if lucky, crawl up onto dry land again…
…Or maybe it would be better to drown in its embrace. The Great Compromise is Kingsbury’s debut full-length album, and after listening repeatedly, I was taken aback. Their sound is altogether too mature and crafted for this to be a first full-length record; however, considering that they spent more than a year’s time hashing out, recording, and finishing this album, one can begin to believe Kingsbury was able to create such a work.
This album deserves more than a cursory listen and five hundred words.
Musically, Kingsbury’s The Great Compromise straddles the darker side of indie-rock, infuses the enervated American psychedelic movement with fresh life and dabbles in both classic rock and classical accompaniment. Bruce Reed seems intent on constructing each song spatially, as though he wants listeners to walk through them, inevitably emerging not completely certain of his or her surroundings.
“The Corpse”—the album’s first track—drifts into existence as a dirge: the weeping of violins followed by an orchestral drum section and a light, martial snare. The subject matter is fittingly matched to the tones, as the lyrics open by describing a room where “the power is out, the power is out,” and we are confronted with a deteriorating corpse on the couch. And when it seems nearly too much, a simple piano melody counteracts the death-march, as Bruce Reed’s minimalist, more-air-than-words voice offers an interlude of hope: “All I ever wanted was to help while you were lost. / My brother take the help when it’s offered next time you’re lost.”
The song ends on a major chord, snatching hope from the overwhelming musical and lyrical bleakness. It is from the artful struggle between these themes of hope and loss, decay and light that Kingsbury swirls up tunes from a seemingly measureless emotional abyss.
The album’s title track begins as a stripped-down acoustic stroll, builds as panned guitars climb out of and descend again into the mix. A hesitant keyboard melody accompanies the chorus duet of Reed and Alexis Hamlin-Vogler as they sing: “And if I will dance, will you swallow me, consume my soul? / If I smile will you torture me, turn my body cold? Oh no.”
It is this sort of tension that allows the individual songs to take shape and project space; a thoroughly post-modern art concept applied to a medium (indie-rock, in particular) not completely comfortable with its infringement.
Who is to say comfort is always a good thing?
Hope and despair, uncertainty and devotion, child-like trust and brutality… Kingsbury is one of the few bands out there willing to tread water in such seas. Fortunately, this album sails through unscathed—if not stronger—from the voyage.