Album Review: King Charles

loveblood (island)

Emerging as a modern day Adam Ant, King Charles, otherwise known as Charles Costa, puts out his debut album Loveblood; a pleasant plethora of Electronic Pop and Indie Folk, glamourously dressed up with shiny production and perfect percussion.

As well as a penchant for all things Eighties, London-based King Charles employs the glittery, glam style of the seventies with music that mixes the synths of Sparks with the more recent indie afro-pop of Vampire Weekend. Loveblood is awash with so many genres and influences it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that King Charles does. The record steadily rattles through a total of ten upbeat tracks and could easily slot itself in with the likes of current buzz bands Mumford And Sons and Noah And The Whale.

Title track, Loveblood is a strictly Indie affair; high-pitched jangly guitar riffs over a backdrop of classic handclaps and stop-start percussion. Although a good enough song, it certainly sets the standard for the remainder of the record - repetitive ditties that people will have no problem dancing and clapping along to. Tracks like Mississippi Isabel feature additions of sing-along 'la-la-la' phrases, big vocals, off-beat piano hooks, more hand-clapping and simple lyrics such as "She kissed me one, I took her out for lunch and she never kissed me again".

Bam Bam is a jaunty, Beach Boys style track, its main focus the fifties inspired doo-wop vocals. Accompanied by a continuous, fast-paced comping piano, the track is highly exuberant and instantly hummable. For me, one of the highlights of the record is current single, Lady Percy; an energetic explosion featuring the tropical sounds of shimmering steel drums, a full and rich production and infectious, danceable afro rhythms. It also sounds a lot like a track from the Lion King soundtrack which, in my books, is a winner straight away.

Songs like Ivory Road showcase King Charles' distinctive glottal-stop vocal technique, while his highly theatrical vocal delivery appears in the dramatic, Sparks-like Polar Bear. The often hinted at Folk/Bluegrass elements reveal themselves in full in The Brightest Lights, creating an anthemic, Country feel with the addition of a banjo, slide guitar, bagpipes, embellished vocals and a capella passages. A truly feel-good, foot-stomping track. The steel slide guitar continues on to Beating Hearts, shifting up a gear for the full-blown big guitar-rock track, Coco Chitty. Mr. Flick is an instant transportation back to the Eighties with big synths, huge guitar riffs and another Sparks-inspired production.

Although the often quaint and repetitive lyrics and happy-go-lucky style are nothing to write home about, the use of instrumentation and rhythms in this record are something really refreshing. The exotic feel of steel drums, syncopated rhythms and orchestral sounds of violins, glockenspiels and kettle drums is a surprising contrast against a musical theatre-style delivery and ultra glossy execution.

Loveblood is an extremely diverse record. It's a fun-filled album with quirky elements and humorous lyrics, with King Charles not afraid of big, sing-along choruses. When you scratch below the surface, Loveblood is essentially a really great Pop record, revealing King Charles' obvious songwriting strengths. However, I feel he may have to change his path in order to see longevity, and definitely before we see King Charles crowned the King Of Pop.