Sunday 6 April 2008

Album: Killola - I Am The Messer

I’ve been a fan of Los Angeles band Killola for a couple of years now. Last Spring they cut a quick swathe across the UK and I was very happy to catch them rattling the chandeliers at the Café De Paris in London.

Anyway, I wrote the gig up in favourable terms and thought little more about it.

But they didn’t forget me, and have sent me an advance copy of their new album, I Am The Messer, to review.

The first thing that strikes the listener is how much more mature and varied this collection is compared to the espresso jolt of their previous release ‘Louder, Louder’. Sure, tracks such as Heartrate 160 and Strung Out On Sunshine are out and out rockers, but this album is not only an adrenaline rush.

The album starts with This Is How The World Ends, and straight away you have to adjust to Lisa Rieffel's extraordinary voice, which is best described as a bratty, snarling squeak. If Dolly Parton hadn’t been a country gal, but had spent her formative years drag racing down Sunset Strip, sassing policemen and getting drunk in public, then she might come close to matching this combination of friendly but fierce . This track also features some breathless panting, which is always welcome in my book.

All Of My Idols Are Dead is a power ballad about that moment when a girl takes down her posters and leaves childish things behind. A real ache in the throat number.

Is This A Love Song? is more of what I would call a traditionally ‘American’ sounding rock number which leads into a shorter, more experimental piece called ‘The Man From Kilmanjaro’. This doesn’t reference either Julian Cope or The Teardrop Explodes, but does feature some groovy Eastern strings.

We now get to the really meaty rock tracks on the album. ‘Personal Gravity’, a heavy track with an almost marching beat. It builds until all the instruments cut dead, leaving just the wailing vocal; closely followed by Heartrate 160, which chugs along before dying in a squall of feedback.

And here comes, what is for me, the best track here, Wa Da Wa Da. This has a classic, dirty rock riff that AC/DC would be proud of. It is a beast of a song, incorporating a passage where fans will doubtless be invited to clap along to the drums…and they will. This track is coming to a stadium near you.

You Can’t See Me Because I’m a Stalker slows everything down. A simple drumbeat, a mellow guitar and a lovelorn voice. It’s deceptively gentle and sweet, but the title gives the game away.

The record finishes with the manic ska-rock of 10,000 Pound Ego, the track that features the screams of “I Am The Messer” that give the album its title.

Killola have built on their previous work to produce an album that will sound great blaring out of an open-topped car travelling at speed. Is that a police siren? Who cares!

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