When I first heard The King Blues it was from their second album, Save The World, Get The Girl, and its combination of upbeat ska infused folk and punk really made me sit up and listen, and when I heard What If Punk Rock Never Happened (the albums spoken word finale) I knew this band could well be something special.
Having taken a look back at their first album, Under The Fog, I released how Save The World… was a real step forward on bringing everything that made Under The Fog something good into sharper focus to create something great. These two albums, combined with a storming set at Reading 2010, really made me excited for the release of Punk & Poetry.
This excitement though was tinged with a certain trepidation, could this band, who I had recently discovered and so enjoyed, live up to the high standards they had set themselves? On first listen to the preview track, We Are Fucking Angry, I was a bit concerned, its combination of punk rhetoric, hip-hop rhythms and almost dub-step like sounds worried me. Had the band may have over stretched in terms of throwing too much into the pot to create what had the potential to being a mess of a record?
Undeterred though I headed out and picked up a copy of Punk & Poetry on release day and at the earliest opportunity plugged in my headphones and gave it a spin.
Opener Last of the Dreamers re-assured me somewhat, no matter what else The King Blues still had the same combination of social and political punk conscience which I had so loved from Save The World… and then came We Are Fucking Angry which again still didn’t quite work in my head.
However, as the album continued it all began to fall into place taking off from where the band had left off on their previous recording and taking it to a new level.
It became apparent that the mash-up of styles the band employed had been used to even greater effect that previously and suddenly We Are Fucking Angry fell into place in my head and alongside Headbutt, 5 Bottles of Shampoo, Sex Education and Shooting Fascists is now one of my favourite tracks on the album.
Throughout their career The King Blues have shown a penchant for rabble rousing rhetoric and this is something that really stands out on Punk & Poetry, and its easy to see why. This is a band that has grown alongside a shifting and controversial political landscape, from ‘The War On Terror’ to the current Governmental cuts stemming from the so-called ‘Credit Crunch’ this band have been making their anarcho-sympathetic point in increasingly blunt ways since their inception as the political landscape around them has become increasingly divisive, and their constant fight against organisations like the EDL both on and off record is surely to be admired.
Away from politics the bands description of current social ills has mirrored their take on more governmental matters and reaches a peak here with the aforementioned 5 Bottles of Shampoo and Sex Education which paint a picture of what has been described as ‘Broken Britain’ in a way that really speaks to the listener without instilling the need for panic and fear which mainstream media seem to want to instill in their readers and listeners. Instead The King Blues present facts and viewpoints in a way that challenges the listener to think and make their own mind up, though Itch also makes it clear where he stands and I think most people who even consider picking up this album will probably agree with his viewpoints (frankly what sensible, educated human being wouldn’t?).
Alongside all the politics and social commentary The King Blues still clearly find the time to have fun and this is seen on the record as well with their own take on pop-punk with songs that bring to mind the best from the Buzzcocks to Blink and I would hope set dancefloors and moshpits off pogoing with a big grin on their faces as soon as they kick in. This is particularly clear on songs Headbutt and I Want You.
In all The King Blues third album is also their best combining everything that made the previous two, and taking it up a notch. This album has been described by some as a soundtrack to the year of protests that 2011 arguably became, however I think this sells it short. While some tracks definitely provide that soundtrack there is a lot more to be found and it is this combination of voice that makes it a truly great record.