King of Spain – Thirtydegreeshandsonhipsleanforwardandsmile (Shifty Disco)

By Mark Youll | 13th October, 2011 | album reviews |

King of Spain


Record label: Shifty Disco

Release date: October 7th 2011

Verdict: ***

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As their music and humble reputation as one of South London’s best kept secrets implies, King of Spain are not the sort of band to concern themselves with that ‘difficult second album’ syndrome. From their earliest steps and the seductive shanties that made up their criminally overlooked (and undercooked) debut album – 2008s Battleships and Aeroplanes – it was clear that this is a band at ease with their roles as indie obscurists.

Firstthingsfirst. Thirtydegrees doesn’t carry on where the first album left off. In fact, from the squawking megaphone used to count off the sort of mangled to jangled Marr-like guitar the band deemed suitable for soundtracking what sounds like a twisted tale for toddlers called Fighting Bears, it’s more than apparent that album number two is to be a much broader event.

“King of Spain fully recognise that indie rock music, in its proper guise, is supposed to be difficult and challenging.”

Besides the obvious here: stronger songs, a more direct sound, maybe a bigger production budget and therefore more free channels to play with in the studio, King of Spain fully recognise that indie rock music, in its proper guise (al la Smiths, Fire Engines, Fad Gadget, Scritti, Belle and Seb), is supposed to be difficult and challenging, and their delivery and screwy themes (andalbumtitle) conform to such conformities.

Without ever having to mention that King of Spain have finally made the LP that will get them noticed, or reveal that it could easily spit out some decent singles if it wanted to, without implying their debut was some kind of false start or that at times they sound more West Coast than Wandsworth, you could merely let on that the second album by King of Spain is a punchier affair.

Musically, and despite the fact there’s nothing here as emotive as say, Not the Machine from the first LP, except for maybe Battleships and Aeroplanes or Keep Moving On from this one, Thirtydegrees’ announces more sides to a band not content with stitching catchy pop like Par Lammers and Oh Brother! Break out the Beats to naked beauties like Marianne and Laura, they have to let slip that their time has just begun, and that their gateway from the south may just be round the corner.
Mark Youll