The King Blues: Off With Their Heads

  • Dustin Blumhagen posted
  • Reviews

The King Blues

Off With Their Heads - Meatball Records

After a hiatus which saw vocalist ITCH release an album of catchy pop songs, The King Blues have returned to the stage. Following quickly on the heels of their return to the stage, the band have released new material. It seems natural to feel some trepidation toward reunited bands new material. Personally, Refused are one of my favourite bands and “Freedom” is the biggest piece of garbage Dennis Lyxzen has ever been a part of in his various musical ventures. Would The King Blues fall into the same rut, embarrassing their political punk legacy with a blatant cash grab that mimics the downfall of Black Flag?

One of the things which has always made The King Blues special is their ability to experiment with their sound, never settling comfortably in one style, much like fellow Brits, The Clash. This helps the band avoid stagnation, as they have woven elements of ska, reggae, soul and more into their punk sound over the years. Their return follows this format, adding a variety of sounds to the songs. While only clocking at just over 21 minutes, the album is entertaining enough to have warranted double the length.

“Off With Their Heads” starts off with the title track, which is a rambunctious punk offering that is fuelled by ITCH’s vitriolic verses over snarling guitars and gang vocals aplenty. It is a great song and kicks things off with a bang. The band clearly have retained both their energy and political ideology. They may not be as well known as some of their peers, but they should appeal to fans of bands like “Grey Britain”-era Gallows or Star Fucking Hipsters, equal parts snarling punk and artistic musical blend of styles with a heavy political message throughout. On “Starting Fires” they do their best impression of Joe Strummer and friends, with a straightforward old school punk rock song. The tempo slows down for “Poems & Songs,” which features ITCH on ukulele, singing a sweet love song. Rather than derail the album, it manages to meld with their sound well. The band take on garage rock with plenty of swagger on “Opposable Thumbs” and it is a riot. Keeping things interesting, this is followed up with a mellow piano ballad, “Words” and the similarly mellow “Pure Fucking Love.” But the squealing guitars, fist pumping chants and snarling vocals of “Taxi Driver” show that these punks haven’t gone soft. 

Each song stands out clearly on its own terms and the album is better for it. ITCH spits out lines with vitriol, sounding like the bastard son of Johnny Rotten, with a heavy rap influence. As evidenced by his solo release, the other members of The King Blues add a much needed depth to the front man’s work though. This is a collective effort and overall an exciting blend of musical styles from one of England’s most exciting bands.