The back story of To Kill A King, a band originally from Leeds but now based in London, is full with promise. Their first single was released on Communion, the label that introduced the world to the likes of Laura Marling and Mumford And Sons, back in 2011. Since then, they’ve put out an album, Cannibals With Cutlery, by themselves, and the past few months has seen them step up to support The Flaming Lips.
Still, a label push can’t hurt, and they’re set to get one, having signed with Xtra Mile. All of which brings us to a re-release – all 13 tracks from the original remain alongside some bonus material. The material suggests their hearts are very much on their sleeves, and it’s obvious right from the off. The introduction of I Work Nights And You Work Days comprises of gentle piano before strings swoop in without warning. It’s old school romanticism and very loved up, but it’s difficult to resist.
If only the rest of the LP was this delightful. Family sums up the best and worst of Cannibals With Cutlery; the sparse nature of its introduction draws you in and it gives much-needed prominence to Ralph Pelleymounter’s vocals (which remind of Noah And The Whale‘s Charlie Fink). In its final act, it decides to roar for its grand finish, trumpet fanfare and all. Yet when they go on the attack in this way, the results just aren’t convincing. Cold Skin is urgent, but its sudden guitar bursts bring to mind a raft of indie bands in the mid-noughties that fell away almost instantly.
Even though it’s only a short acoustic interlude, the title track is rather captivating. Besides She Said will play more sympathetically to those who aren’t pining for past indie glories. Its tone throughout is soothing and it’s also where it becomes apparent that they are far better at being intimate; moments like this are the ones likely to attract repeat visits, given their snug qualities.
The four extra songs, whilst occasionally interesting, don’t add much to the overall package and can be largely forgotten about entirely if you’re coming to them blind; the exception to this rule being a full version of Cannibals With Cutlery. To Kill A King here seem ultimately still to be wrestling with the problem of how to make several different ideas gel together. They are at their best when it feels as if they’re playing just to you and no one else; maybe a bit of scaling down would do them a lot of good.