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After months of anticipation fuelled by catchy hooks, Hottest 100 success and killer tracks like ‘Creepin’ and ‘Golden’, Melbourne outfit Kingswood, have finally returned with their latest offering After Hours, Close To Dawn. Unlike previous releases from the outfit, however, the two lead singles are not indicative of the overarching sound of the record. Rather these particular tracks act as a benchmark for the directional evolution of Kingswood, as the sounds that follow present a new path. Although perhaps not exactly what fans may have expected, the record itself is solid, challenging, and both a blunt and bold declaration of the Kingswood’s new direction.
Although some fans may be apprehensive about the (many) avenues explored within the belly of the record, the album as a whole should be celebrated for its experimental prowess. Still, there is an underlying cohesiveness, and this particular layer of consistency is cemented by the vocal stylings of Fergus Linacre. In any other circumstance, pairing tracks like ‘Belle’ and ‘Like Your Mother’ would have clashed rather violently, but with Linacre at the helm After Hours, Close To Dawn just works.
Delving further track-wise, the entire midsection of the album presents a throwback, paying ample homage to a sound which dominated a bygone era but propelling it forward into today. ‘Belle’ for example, really dials back the rock undertones and focuses on the element of old-school blues and R&B.
There’s definitely still a grittiness to their sound, particularly with tracks like ‘Library Books’ and ‘Like Your Mother’, delivered with a punchy and unapologetic gusto. These scattered tracks that are fuelled by Kingswood’s distorted vintage influences will appeal to dedicated fans.
The final track ‘Why Do I Get Stuck When You Arrive’, could easily be a reprise, tieing the entire record together with a slow dreamy twist that is somewhat outside of Kingswood’s back catalogue. Also, in what seems to be an entirely deliberate act, the album appears to run on a continuous loop, taking the band literally full circle with their new approach.
There are two very different ways to take in this record, each resulting in a completely different listening experience. A vinyl lover’s dream would see the listener embrace spontaneity as each track progressively paints a picture of genre-hopping sounds and perceptions. But, by breaking down the album, and pulling apart each individual track, a much greater appreciation for each and every specific style sprayed throughout the record is achieved.
The truly wonderful thing about After Hours, Close To Dawn is the fact that you really don’t know exactly which turn the band will take. As a listener, you’re really travelling through, ingesting every sound from beginning to end, which really makes the very first listen, in particular, something truly special.