So, they have changed a lot, but have they truly progressed? An early single showed promise and this album shatters all illusions that Karn8 are the same band they were when we last laid eyes upon them. The disk’s opener ‘Wasteland’ is a seductive and soft introduction, showing in but a few seconds how much the members have matured and lived whilst they have been absent from the desperate London music scene.
As soon as ‘Good Time’ hits the obvious Doors influence (and that of Steve Hoffman, who re-mastered both The Doors and Johnny Cash long before working on this record) is shoved in our face. That being said they only borrow from the aforementioned in melody and tone. The bluesy guitars wind around the senses and grab at them, tempting us whilst moving the song forward. ‘Running Free’ whets the appetite further with its pulsating raw rythmes and Jefferson Airplane styled psychedelic rock twang. This is a whole new band with a much more positive outlook, and this is reflected wholeheartedly in the music. That’s not to say this is anything close to a “pop” record, but it’s clear that by the time the snottingly brilliant single ‘Where The Fires Play’ and follow-up ‘As If You Could’ pass by (serving to remind us somewhat of the sleaze-rock that made this band so attractive the first time around) it becomes clear that the three-piece have come out from their darkness.
That being said, ‘Old No.7’ is simply a moody ode to booze. It’s dark-indie with a southern rock tinge. Slowly and methodically it moves along, Bones’ guitars have a real presence here whilst Kirst vocals are ever soulful. It should be said though that the crowd of voices that form the backbone for this create an unnecessary distraction that detracts from the impact of the song and the thoughtful lyrics. ‘Over’ again utilises bleak words coupled with Cure styled drums and melody for a soft piece meant for listening when you’re in the mood for some chilling.
‘Something Is Wrong Here’ rocks and it will be interesting to see how it is portrayed within the live arena come the big chorus of “All The Strange Things”. Indeed, each one of these tracks sounds relatively “easy going” but given Karn8’s live reputation things should heat up once they get up in front of a crowd. ‘Strip’ as some might expect is a standout on this, and it sees the group back within heavier territory just as sexy and sleazy as ever. ‘True Face’ is beautiful and is probably pound-for-pound the most haunting and emotive tune on offer. The effort Kirst puts into this might just blow you away. Here the band put an original and mainstream spin on what Rasputina do well. ‘Little Sister’ is unrelenting, thought provoking and proud in its delivery, Leigh’s drums come to the front here and push the song to new and much louder heights than we have been used to thus far. Next up, ‘Wasteland (reprise)’ continues where the soft and soul bothering opener left off, offering a nice break before the final track ‘Superstar’ hits, the grungy guitars and old-school punk mentality is balanced perfectly with the melodic sensibility the band has found recently for a fine finish. This is their breakthrough and this diverse effort deserves your absolute attention.
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
Check the video out for ‘Where The Fires Play’