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To Kill a King: The Spiritual Dark Age review – skilful indie rockers can't cut loose

Like a compilation of indie trends this century … To Kill a King.
Like a compilation of indie trends this century … To Kill a King. Photograph: Wolf James

Three albums in, and To Kill a King still feel like they are casting around for an identity, and not quite finding one. The Spiritual Dark Age – a title that betrays the lack of a lyrical light touch at times – flits around, alighting on big American rock (My God & Your God, Bar Fights), heavily emoted piano ballads (And Yet …), scratchy post-punk (The Unspeakable Crimes of Peter Popoff), and Mumfords-esque anthemic stadium folk (the title track), without ever settling. They sound not like themselves, but rather a compilation tape of assorted mainstream indie trends of this century. To Kill a King are skilful – Ralph Pelleymounter has a lustrous voice (though it sounds better the less he self-consciously “sings”) and they know how to write melodies – but the The Spiritual Dark Age sounds like a group playing within themselves, never quite willing to cut loose to the extent they could. Maybe this is as far as they go, in which case the world has another band who sound a bit like the many moods of Arcade Fire – fine so far as it goes. But it’s frustrating to listen to a group and suspect there’s something much more interesting in there.

This article titled "To Kill a King: The Spiritual Dark Age review – skilful indie rockers can't cut loose" was written by Michael Hann, for The Guardian on Thursday 11 January 2018 10.30pm


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