I was listening to The Creature King by Mayor Owl which is the solo project for Ryan Solomon and I started reading the linear notes. It said “This album kicked the shit out of me in every sense of the phrase.” I started to think about it and thought that's the way it should be. If an album is easy to make then you are doing something wrong. Funny enough I was listening to a Thom Yorke interview a few days later who echoed the same sentiment about making an album. Suffice it to say you can tell how much effort, time and thought was put into these songs from the songwriting to production.
Solomon said some of his influences were The National, Tom Waits, The Pixies and Nick Cave. I would argue that you could hear each one of those artists to some degree in his music. In fact I picked up on Tom Waits and The National prior to reading about his influences.
Up first is “Christmas” which is one hell of a song. The two aspects that really jumped to me were the pounding drumming (which continues to be an integral element of the songs) and vocals. I loved how dynamic the vocals were. It is quite powerful especially when he delivers the line “Oh thank god that the end is here, finally.”
Luckily “Christmas” is no fluke. The exceptional level of songwriting and delivery stay consistent. The title track is infectious, hopeful and the vocals and drumming are again the elements that got most of my attention. Some of that Tom Waits/Nick Cave influence shines through on “Hobble” while the low baritone of Matt Berninger is more evident on “Machine.”
“Little Arms” was a clear highlight. “Ghosts” reminded me of a very obscure band called Frog Eyes while the closer “Anchors Aweigh” was experimental, theatric piece that felt a little out of place at the end of the album.
This is a great album overall and only had some very minor issues. There is so much emotion pouring through the songs that I was won over almost instantly and will playing this one again for my own pleasure. Don’t pass this one up.
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