Demons rejoice! King Dude’s latest and provocatively-titled Sex album is full of surprises and deviates nicely from his previous albums. Let’s get right into it, because this album varies a LOT sound-wise.
Sex opens with “Holy Christos,” a rock-heavy song driven by crunchy guitars and his echoing, atmospheric vocals. It begins and ends with haunting melodies sung by vocalist Foie Gras which, while separate from the rest of the song, complete the track beautifully. “Who Taught You How To Love” comes next. This is a slower and more depressing song, but it’s still very much rock-oriented. The guitar is notably post-punk in sound. This one is definitely on the love end of King Dude’s Death/Love Venn Diagram. It opens with the lyrics, “I met her in L.A./She said she’s gonna be a movie star someday,” which is interesting, considering this track was recorded in L.A. separately from the rest of the album.
To me, the album really picks up with the third track, “I Wanna Die At 69.” The placement is perfect. After “Who Taught You To Love” puts us in a melancholy mood, we’re suddenly hit with some crass lyrics sung with rough, gritty vocals. Dark jangly guitar give it a bigger Americana sound than the rest of the album. “Our Love Will Carry On” has the melancholy feel of “Who Taught You How To Love,” but it’s way more folk-based. In fact, this is easily the folkiest song on Sex, which as a whole is more rock-oriented than King Dude’s previous albums. That being said, lyrically and thematically, this song hit me more than the others with the line, “Oh the dead have come and gone/Our love will carry on.” It might sound cheesy on the surface, but I’m a firm believer that love does indeed continue after death, although I don’t claim to understand how or why.
“Sex Dungeon (USA)” picks the album back up again in an unexpected way, and happily, it doesn’t come down again until the end of the album. The track opens with a distant drum machine and then blasts you with fast guitar and equally fast and demonic vocals. The lyrics are very simplistic, but it’s very catchy. Did I just describe a punk song? Yes, this is indeed a punk song on a King Dude album, and it fucking rules.
“Conflict & Climax” is completely void of vocals, which is the best element of King Dude’s music, and yet this is one of my favorite songs on the album because of how incredibly post-punk it is. It features fast, creeping bass and atmospheric guitar over ambient noise. “The Leather One” goes back to that classic gritty, dark, Americana-feel King Dude is known for, brilliant words and all, but it features a really fun no wave electronic melody that makes it almost funky. This song is another personal favorite of mine. Hang on to this sound, because it’s the last time on the album you’ll find as much familiarity to his previous work.
“Swedish Boys” has a similar punk feel to “Sex Dungeon (USA),” and although it’s less aggressive and lyrically simplistic, it remains one of the most fun tracks on Sex. The subject matter is satisfyingly dark; I personally think the lyrics are the best part. The chorus features Foie Gras once again on backup vocals under King Dude’s lo-fi vocals and catchy guitar. “Prisoners” was also recorded separately from the rest of the album-probably in Berlin-according to King Dude’s Bandcamp. I love how unique this one is to the rest of the album’s sound. It feels almost hip-hip influenced. King Dude raps aggressively during the verses and the dreamy chorus is sung by Foie Gras alone.
If “Prisoners” felt different, it’s nothing compared to the curveball that is “The Girls.” The tone is set with an announcer “re-introducing” King Dude to the stage, followed by applause, with more scattered applause and audience acknowledgment throughout the track. The song itself sounds absolutely nothing like traditional King Dude, especially vocally. The closing track, “Shine Your Light” rounds up the album quite nicely, consisting solely of slow, sad piano and emotional vocals reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. The whole thing sounds as if it were recorded in a dank, dark room lit by a single candle and a cigarette cherry. A serene and bleak ending to an awesome album that runs the gamut of sounds and emotions.
Sex will be available on October 28th, 2016. You can pre-order the gorgeous limited edition color vinyl and/or digital version on Bandcamp now.