Reviews King Khan & the Shrines Idle No More

King Khan & the Shrines

Idle No More

In King Khan & the Shrines, King Khan goes big band. Not in the jazz sense, but in a horn-laden variety a la Memphis rock with some James Brown thrown in for good measure. It’s leg-kicking, camelwalkin’ rock with horns that fill out the sound over a funky groove.

While the energetic frontman has a knack for rock ’n’ roll, especially going back to the early days, the sheer scope of The Shrines is grand. And along with that ten-piece band comes a big sound—and one that sometimes gets lost in itself. With 12 songs total, the record varies from cut to cut. It effectively maintains a specific sound that pulls from early rock but it’s never formulaic or derivative—which is a pretty big complement considering what the band is going for. Unfortunately, it never really eclipses the figureheads of the style either, basking in pleasant and easy-listening mediocrity when it could be shaking the chandeliers out of their mounts. It goes bigger in songs like “Bite My Tongue,” “Bad Boy,” “So Wild,” and “I Got Made” (see a theme here?), but those songs are all merely good, never quite passing to the next level. Those are also the standouts. The mid-tempo pieces like “Thorn in Her Pride” accomplish their goals of horn-driven melodic and old-timey rock just fine, it’s just that after a couple songs of this sort, I lose interest. This song is also guilty of one of the lower points on the record, too, with its “bah bah bah” chorus. That and the balladry of “Pray for Lil” have me hitting that skip button all too quickly.

The group does expand beyond the horny boundaries in songs like “Better Luck Next Time,” a sunshine rock song that would fit right into a Scooby Doo chase scene, and the British Invasion/Kinks-inspired “Yes I Can’t.” The former song is catchy but a bit too cute, while the latter piques interest. “Darkness” is a nice ballad, capturing a somber tone and helping to round out the emotional reach of the record.

All in all, Idle No More is an album that will attract fans of these already established styles, but it doesn’t do a lot to differentiate itself from what’s already out there. Sometimes the songs aim too high, getting lost by going kitchen sink where a simple lick or horn would have sufficed, and that larger production detracts from those very base-level qualities that primal rock thrives upon.

6.7 / 10Loren
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