pushing 4.5 stars…
I cannot stop listening to this album – and it’s been awhile since I’ve said that about ANY album. XV, for all of its simplicities, is still hard to categorize; and that’s what makes it great. It’s the type of album that, while packing a legitimate punch upon first listen, doesn’t necessarily blow you away upon first listen; and again, that’s what makes it great! Your brain goes through the mechanical intellectualizations the first time around, taking inventory…no real soloing, no epics, nothing incredibly new sounding or adventurous… all tunes are short and “sweet.” And frequently, the danger with such a recipe lies in the fact that this sort of thing may trigger you to permanently retire the album to your shelf (or out of your ipod) after just one shot – forever forgotten.
But not this album! This is King’s X we’re talking about!!! What other group can write an entire song around “One day it’s gonna be alright alright yeah alright alright yeah,” with all the background vocals and trimmings of anthemic sing-along, AND have it come out sounding so damn… ARTISTIC!!! And so it is for reasons like this, that King’s X proves to have [once again] escaped the chasm of a one-listen-toss-away, because there’s something subconscious in you that wants you to return to track one and blast through it again.
And again and again. Until finally you give yourself permission to sing along with the “na na na na” syllable chorus of “BROKE” with all the serious, soulful, heartfelt fist-pumping urgency that is deserved. While I’d still file this as a “grows on you” album, if only because you will (I PROMISE) become more obsessed with it with each new listen, I do confess it grows on you very quickly – so watch out! The only heartbreak for me is the “straight-A-kid-has-expectations-set-even-higher” syndrome. We all know the band’s potential…and given the electric energy in the air here, it pains me when I think perhaps this coulda-woulda-shoulda been a…dare I say…masterpiece, had they taken their newfound energy and pushed the envelope of adventurousness a little more – but while still leaving all the “whoa yeah’s” firmly intact!
Alas, I’m sure a lot of fans will disagree with me, triumphantly applauding this release as a sigh-of relief “return to form” in a way, that still feels fresh and in a phase all of its own. But don’t get me wrong, who am I to disgree? Right now, I’m addicted.
Ok fine, 5 stars – the Brian May guitar harmonies at the very end are a knockout punch