As we lamented in our sprawling end of year list the abundance of great music released in 2021 made it difficult to keep up. We aim to rectify that with this new summer series where we cover the music that we are ashamed to admit we never quite managed to highlight, yet have found ourselves returning to again and again.
The fifth album by Dutch collective King Champion Sounds feels remarkably incoherent. It should be called ‘Between 13 Worlds.’ There is so much going on. It makes you realise how boring most bands are. It opens with this searing guitar with a woozy repetitive electronic pulse, whilst the next is a rollicking indie pop complete with horns and vocals. The remainder of the album twists and turns, often quite abruptly in numerous unexpected directions. I’ve been listening to it since October when it came out and it really resists any easy categorisation. It really does go everywhere. Each song sounds like a new band. This could be because they’ve roped in a number of guests, such as Gerry Love (formerly of Teenage Fanclub) who adds velvety vocals and instrumentation to the indie dub jig “I’m In Between Two Worlds”, Mia Doi Todd who offers haunting resonant vocals to “Remembering Easby Abbey”, Sally Timms of The Mekons, who takes lead vocals on “Thou Hurricane” with Jon Langford (the Mekons) and Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh Dream Day) on backing vocals. Glasgow poet Marieke McKenna even offers otherworldly words from her diary to “Seasick” which feels less like music than sound design.
It’s not the presence of a different vocalist however that makes it sound so diverse, it’s the music too. It’s really not like anything else. A truly unique amalgamation of indie pop, dub and sound design all sort of shaken up in frequently fascinating ways.
As I listened I kept hoping that everything would coalesce into one, a lightbulb would go off above my head and I would ‘get it.’ That never happened. This is adventurous music without necessarily being overly weird or out there. With most bands you know what you’re getting 15 seconds into the first song. Some three months later and countless listens I can safely tell you that I have no idea. As a result I keep coming back again and again and it remains fresh and surprising each time. It made me realise ‘getting it’ is overrated.