The King Blues – Long Live The Struggle (Released 02/07/2012 through Transmission)
A band releasing an album on the back of a relatively mysterious and unexpected split was always destined to be an intriguing prospect. Will The King Blues deliver a rabble rousing, fist pumping send off worthy of their legacy, or will they slip off un noticed in to punk-rock insignificance? Truthfully, they do neither however it’s difficult to feel that Long Live The Struggle is going to be the classic that Itch and co. will be remembered for.
Long Live The Struggle finds The King Blues veering ever further away from their musical roots and in true punk spirit they have decided to up the experimentation they teased with on Punk & Poetry. The most striking evidence of this is on Can’t Bring Me Down, which features Jason Butler of Letlive fame. The chorus is the heaviest thing they’ve ever created with Jason screaming his guts out to a dubstep backing, whilst the verses showcase Itch’s rapping talent. This is a standout track on the album, but by no means is that a particularly good thing.
The track sounds rushed, messy and relatively predictable considering its promisingly bonkers premise. One can’t help but feel with a little more thought this could have been the albums shining moment. The main issue with this King Blues album is what it’s lacking in comparison to every other TKB album: a human heart. What set The King Blues apart has always been the love that emanated from every play of Under The Fog, Punk & Poetry and Save the World, Get The Girl.
Long Live The Struggle doesn’t live up to this legacy and unfortunately it never really grabs the listeners attention in so doing losing some of the endearing charm that peppered their previous releases. There are moments in Power To The People that reveal some of the emotion that we’ve come to love from them but at no point does the album ever give you a spine tingling, goosebump inducing piece of Itch’s personal and political soul laid bare.
The album is also let down by the fact that none of these songs, for the foreseeable future at least, will ever be heard live. We Are The Future with it’s electro tinged blasting beat and super catchy chorus sounds like it was made to be screamed back by thousands of jumping kids. We Are F*ing Angry didn’t make sense to me until I was blown away by it’s aggression in a live setting. I feel as though much of the electronic experimentation on Long Live The Struggle sounds a little over produced and takes away some of the TKB’s classic anger and aggression that characterized so much of The King Blues earlier output.
The end of the album doesn’t pack the punch I expected from a final track on a King Blues record, by no means is it a bad song but it doesn’t stand up to classic closing tracks What If Punk Never Happened and Getting Out Of Here, both of which feel much more like the closing of an era than Keep The Faith.This is not to say that there aren’t any gems on Long Live the Struggle. Wasted Words is arguably the best pop song TKB have ever written and it’s female lead Chorus is reminiscent of The Streets at their best.
We Are What We Own is a great opener showcasing Itch’s genius way with words from the outset.Long Live the Struggle is an intriguing album that I still don’t feel, after several spins, like I’ve quite got my head around. It just doesn’t feel like a final album. It is by no means a finish line flop but nor is it the classic we were all hoping for. If Itch and Jamie ever resolve their issues The King Blues have most definitely left the door open as this writer can’t quite accept this is goodbye from The King Blues. * * *To get a feel for the album check out : -‘We Are The Future’-‘Wasted Words’-‘Keep The Faith’