Dreaming of Revenge
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2008, Volume 15, #3
Written by John Metzger
Wed March 12, 2008, 07:30 PM CDT
Over the course of three albums, Kaki King managed to become a favorite performer within certain circles of the lo-fi, indie rock scene. By tightening up her songs and finding more focus on ...Until We Felt Red, her breakthrough of sorts from 2006, she hinted that she was looking to broaden her appeal and win over a larger audience. King’s latest endeavor Dreaming of Revenge continues this trajectory by providing more structure to her compositions. In fact, the outing itself feels like a loosely knit concept album about a relationship that isn’t meant to last.
Although King still favors ethereal motifs that routinely hang in the air like haunted, feverish dreams, producer Malcolm Burn gave her the assistance she needed to find freedom within a tighter framework. The stage for Dreaming of Revenge is set perfectly by opening track Bone Chaos in the Castle. As layer upon layer of textural tones are added, the rippling acoustic and squirming electric guitars, the eerie keyboards, and the propulsive beat join together in an hypnotically fluid dance. The strings that bend and fold around Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be a Bad Person? sound as if they had been plucked from Simon & Garfunkel’s Old Friends, and as usual, the influences of Pink Floyd and John Fahey weigh heavily upon her compositional style.
With each passing endeavor, King’s vocals have begun to play a larger and larger role within her compositions. The problem, however, is that she doesn’t sound very comfortable when she sings. Each phrase that she utters feels awkwardly self-conscious, and it doesn’t help matters when, during Life Being What It Is, she twists around her pronunciation in order to make "I stared straight into the sun" rhyme with "Something to concentrate on." While King’s quirkiness initially seems charming, it eventually becomes overly grating, to the point where it holds her back. Her lyrics, too, are underwhelming, and the pensive instrumental Sad American says more without words than the claustrophobic Pull Me Out Alive does with them.
Overall, though, the narrative arc that she created lends cohesion to Dreaming of Revenge, which is an improvement over King’s earlier endeavors. In spite of their deficiencies, the tracks with vocals do a better job not only of breaking up the monotony of her moody instrumental interludes, but also of providing context to the entirety of the collection. The result is that Dreaming of Revenge not only is more effective and resonant, but it also is her most fully realized outing to date.
Of Further Interest...
Dreaming of Revenge is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box