To Kill A King - Cannibals With Cutlery
Record Label: Communion Records
Release Date: February 24, 2013
It’s been quite a while since indie rock and indie pop bands dominated British radio airwaves. Thinking back a few years to when Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and bands of their ilk were the definition of pop music, it’s difficult to compare a radio’s most played list from 2004 to now. At this point, we’re lucky to hear the occasional Noah & The Whale song, but not much more. To Kill A King are the sort of band to undo that. The London five piece deal in the sort of indie rock that both has enough pop sensibility to propel them onto BBC radio playlists and ‘ones to watch’ lists around the world, as well as the integrity and songwriting ability to make them stand out from the crowd. Cannibals With Cutlery is the band’s long-awaited debut album and fits perfectly into the category of albums that one falls in love with after pretty much three minutes.
My first encounter with To Kill A King was through a ‘name your price’ charity EP on Bandcamp for a children’s hospital. When one’s first dealing with a band is witnessing a charitable activity, it’s easy to take an instant liking to them. However, when I hit the download button, it wasn’t just because it was for a good cause, it was ultimately because of the wonderful ability To Kill A King had to write a catchy as hell track. Although the EP was pretty rough around the edges, the band had a very human intelligence within their lyricism and already possessed a professionalism and songwriting ability far beyond most bands of their relative newness. So, with that under my belt, I set about anticipating Cannibals With Cutlery. Finally, a full length is before me, and, by jove, it lives up to expectations.
Cannibals With Cutlery is chock packed with indie anthems. Whether it be the superb “Cold Skin”, with its insanely catchy melody and wonderfully upbeat, high tempo instrumentation or the rock stomp of “Rays”, To Kill A King are a band gifted with the talent of crafting a memorable, soaring track. They’re very much the sort of band who could light up a festival main stage and hold a captive audience in the palm of their hands, sheerly through their anthemic qualities. It’s not all just typical British indie rock fare on here, however, and the band are very much able to create a goosebump inspiring moment. “Fictional State”, a true standout track within the record, ends with a wonderful crescendo into horns and bombastic instrumentation which, although on first instinct leads to a bit of a ‘wtf?’ moment, is actually quite a wonderful moment of the album. Although To Kill A King have pop instincts, they never chase accessibility, or try hard to come across as a mainstream band. The band’s, often dark, lyricism (“I must make more friends/ So they’ll be hanging at my funeral” being a delightful example) sets them apart from so many of their musical peers who tend to sacrifice intelligent lyricism for the sake of catchiness. It’s a small detail, but it’s one of the many that makes To Kill A King special.
The vocals are have a lovely mid-paced tempo to them. Sounding a little like Britain’s answer to Matt Berninger, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow the instrumentation of the track is, ultimately, each song is anchored to the voice above it. This gives each track a steady quality and ensures that every lyric is heard. The instrumentation itself throughout the album isn’t just the standard fare. To Kill A King utilise an admirable variation of instruments and easily veer from acoustic to guitar/drum/bass and back to orchestral lushness, without skipping a beat. Every aspect of the album is pristine and no part of the record feels like it doesn’t belong. To Kill A King clearly don’t believe in sloppiness or lo-fi and one would be hard-pressed to find a record much more professional sounding. They clearly have pride in the music they create and they’re entirely entitled to.
Overall, Cannibals With Cutlery is a credit to its creators. To Kill A King are a wonderful band and it’s quite unbelievable that a release this mature belongs to a band that are so new to the scene. If the music industry still has even an ounce of sense to it, To Kill A King is a name that will be doing the rounds over the next few months. Even if they don’t break it with the radio, To Kill A King definitely deserve your attention.