Reverend and The Makers – ‘The Death Of A King’ (Cooking Vinyl) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Rich Hobson   
Thursday, 07 September 2017 04:00

Reverend And The MakersThe 2000s were a heady time for indie bands. With the success of the likes of The White Stripes and The Strokes across the Atlantic, a sudden reactionary movement in the UK seemed to spring up overnight, rock radio suddenly being taken over by a host of 60s and early 70s garage rock/proto-punk inspired acts, spearheaded by the likes of The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs and (later) Arctic Monkeys. Problem was, too many of these bands were the same. Same haircuts, same aesthetic, same ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ posturing, every town suddenly propping up its own local variant on the 00s indie boom. It was into this decidedly unfertile cesspit that Reverend and The Makers were first born.

 

Hailing from Sheffield, Reverend were a breath of fresh air. Their debut record ‘The State Of Things’ took the observational humour of The Streets and fused it to the funkiest beats this side of Black Grape, a throwback to the creatively fertile era of Britpop, then over a decade in the past. Now, ten years on from their own arrival on the scene, Reverend and The Makers return with ‘The Death Of A King’, the band’s sixth album, released just a week short of the tenth anniversary of The State Of Things.

 

So let’s get one thing straight up; Reverend and The Makers don’t sound how they used to. If you’re only familiar with the funk-heavy beats of the band’s first album, the observational humour of songs like ‘He Said He Loved Me’ or ‘Bandits’, you’ll barely recognise the band that’s made ‘The Death Of A King’. This past decade has smoothed away some of Reverend and The Makers’ dancefloor filling prowess, the songs of ‘The Death Of A King’ taking a more sombre, nostalgic edge that brings the more wistful side of Ocean Colour Scene to mind.

 

Careful not to overstep their mark, the band keep the songs short and sweet, only one song on the record breaking the four-minute mark. This has a major impact on the flow of the album; where usually a slew of ballads will start to tire the listener out after three or four tracks, Reverend keep things short and sweet enough that the melodies don’t run into each other, each track given enough breathing space to lodge it in the brain without favouring any one song.

 

 

This might be jarring for the casual listener; after all, indie in general is a genre which has been built around instant gratification, YouTube/club friendly singles the calling card of the genre. In 2017, Reverend and the Makers don’t have much time for that. A sun-baked guitar lick kicks the album off in ‘Miss Haversham’, the band beginning a sonic odyssey that takes them through almost southern rock territories, only to pay off with a big piano/keys-led singalong in ‘Auld Reekie Blues’ which honks of British pop in its glory days.

 

Tying it all together is vocalist John McClure, whose Sheffield accent always brings the band back to their roots. Even after more instrumentally experimental tracks like ‘Bang Seray’ which push the boat right out in a traditional oriental composition style, albeit a traditional style by way of Radiohead experiments in electronica, McClure can chime back in on ‘Boomerang’ and conjure up the image of smoky pool bars in Sheffield. It’s not all experiments and ballads though. ‘Too Tough To Die’ dials the rock right back up, its riff roaring to life in true ‘70s arena rock style, perfectly juxtaposed with ‘Carlene’, a quick piano ditty that’d do Jack White proud.

 

And that’s the thing about ‘The Death Of A King’: it’s an album which really pushes the band out, never dwelling too long on one style or mood. Like a fully realised musical expedition, the album seems to travel the length and breadth of the globe to draw on influences and while many might be home grown, there are times when the album finds its grooves in more exotic shores.

 

The general chill vibes created by the album make its more raucous moments truly stand out. The guitars lurching into life for ‘Autumn Leaves’ pound hard, while ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ sounds like a modern indie take on the Bond theme, such is its big-budget sense of the grandiose. Speaking of Bond, album closer ‘Black Flowers’ could be lifted right from the soundtrack of one of Bond’s more… sensual adventures, the track sitting pretty alongside the likes of ‘Goldfinger’, delivering on the moody bombast that ‘Skyfall’ should have utilised.

 

 

‘The Death Of A King’ isn’t an album that Reverend and The Makers could have made a decade ago. This is the sound of a band pushing beyond their core sound, trying new things and still selling the listener the dream while they do it. It’s certainly not the band’s most immediately gratifying release, nor will it fill dancefloors. A decade into their career, Reverend and The Makers have proved they still have plenty of life left in them, offering their most adventurous release to date hot on the heels of chart-invading predecessor Mirrors.

 

In the build-up to the album’s release, McClane has said: “I’m off trying to recreate ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World.’ I’m 35. I have a new set of concerns. I see the world in a different way now so I’m trying to be true to who I am today.” This mood is perfectly captured on the album, Reverend and The Makers still going blow for blow with the heavyweights in the creative department.

 

‘The Death Of A King’ will be released on September 22. You can get your copy HERE.

 

Reverend And The Makers play the following dates:

 

Saturday 29 September – Cornwall, Looe Music Festival

Saturday 14 October – Glasgow, Garage

Wednesday 25 October – London, Electric Ballroom

Friday 27 October – Sheffield, O2 Academy

Saturday 4 November – Manchester, Academy

 

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