Review of Junior Album by Kaki King

Katherine aka Kaki King may have only just reached the ripe old age of thirty, yet she has already clocked up a succession of accolades from other well-respected musicians - Dave Grohl and Robert Smith being two that spring to mind - not to mention consistent levels of critical acclaim bestowed upon each record she's put her name to since her debut long player 'Everybody Loves You' back in 2003.

Kaki King Junior Album

Now onto album number five, 'Junior' is possibly her most gut-wrenching statement of intent yet, following on from its predecessor, 2008's 'Dreaming Of Revenge' in every way possible right down to the sentimental desire for retribution shown previously on ditties like 'So Much For So Little'. While the lyrical theme throughout 'Junior' seems to revolve around Ms King's obvious dislike for a former lover, it's the sublime levels of instrumentation that really come to the fore here, particularly bearing in mind her exquisite guitar playing and subtle arrangements that take in fury and melancholy in equally disparaging measures.

Again produced by Patti Smith cohort Malcolm Burn, 'Junior' is a heartfelt journey through the good, bad and even worse that isn't too dissimilar to the work of her self-confessed hero Mark Kozelek or even 'This Is Our Music' period Galaxie 500, King's most vulnerable side laid bare for all to see and hear.

Opening gambit 'The Betrayer' may be a fast paced rocker that mirrors Howling Bells at their most radiant but the despairing anxiety in King's lyrics ('Please hear me out before you kill yourself') soon take precedence over its misguiding jauntiness.

The bittersweet laments continue, 'Spit It Back In My Mouth' and 'Communist Friends' both resonating like a modern-day Juliana Hatfield or Kristin Hersch, the latter's 'Where are you when I need you?' proving particularly pertinent. The noisier bluster of 'Death Head' is a distinct throwback to King's diligent shoegaze past, while 'Falling Day' again follows a similarly woven path enjoyed by such luminaries as Lush and Belly.

Interspersed between are three instrumentals, 'Everything Has An End, Even Sadness' the more laid back and austere of the trio whereas both 'My Nerves That Committed Suicide' and 'Sloan Shore' offer a more scenic, reflective viewpoint.

King saves the best until last though, the semi-acoustic 'Sunnyside' delivering her most vitriolic aside to date, despatching its subject to the dustbin with the terse 'Good luck finding someone who can love you better than I.'. Not withstanding an inch throughout its three-and-a-half minutes, King shows her versatility proving that she can out Alanis the best of them whilst sounding like a modern day Iommi or Shields in the process. Although still relatively unknown on these shores, one would expect 'Junior' to be the record that changes that. Delightfully caustic in every possible way.


Dom Gourlay

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