It’s not hard to guess why Concrete Knives stick tightly to such a narrow formula across the ten songs which make up Be Your Own King: making music like this sounds as if it would be a pretty addictive pursuit. Two and a half minute opener ‘Bornholmer’ represents the album in miniature – the record’s two mainstay components being the propellant beat back-boning each youthful frolic, and a snatch of shouty-cum-sing song refrain, delivered by however many voices feel like getting swept into into the frothy frenzy.
You make a song which sounds as fun to perform as something like ‘Greyhound Racing’ and it’d take a fairly joyless or stoic bunch to stray too far from the general blueprint across the album’s remaining nine tracks. And thankfully, the exuberance exudes itself to such a degree, that it makes for an endearing listen as well being a clearly exhilarating performance.
Of course, no matter how persuasively shimmying cuts like early single ‘Wallpaper’ might be, there’s ultimately no getting away from the fact that almost none of these tracks offer much by way of melodic development aside from their one or maybe two nothing-but-the-hook refrains, and so the record inevitably assert itself more strongly during moments of even the slightest ornamentation. ‘Truth’, slinking a little more slowly across its four minutes, for instance, enriches itself disproportionately from the tiniest detail of the way the male and female vocal line ever-so-slightly weave their way around each other in faint harmony. Among a catalogue of vocal lines which don’t develop, and don’t deter from each other, even miniscule flashes of higher compositional ambition leap out in three dimensions.
But the fact that an album of kitschy chants set to galloping beats emerges as not only palatable but outrightly inviting is a reason to hold Be Your Own King in warm regard – and it succeeds in doing this by turning the dial up to maximum on arms aloft joy, without ever for a second crossing the threshold into being sugary or syrupy. These tracks might frequently sound like the frameworks of songs yet to be written, or the initial throbs of melodies yet to be crafted, but the earnestness and warmth of the thing succeeds in making the record almost as addictive and loveable to hear as it clearly was to perform.
7Russell Warfield's Score