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Kongos - Lunatic (Review)

Kongos, Lunatic

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

KONGOS have already broken big in the US on the alternative charts and it’s easy to see why. Their debut album, Lunatic is insanely good.

Raw guitar rock, tribal rhythms, Balkan beats, electronic flourishes, reggae tinges, folk-driven accordions, Southern blues and alternating levels of twisted darkness and gentle melodies are all locked up in this band’s armoury and the effect is invigorating.

Album opener I’m Only Joking sets the standard, laying down an opening of tribal drums and foreboding chants before issuing lyrics such as “there is a song you’re trembling too”. By the time it reaches its pumped up, highly melodic and utterly infectious (and sing-along… “I’m only joking, I’m just f**king with your head”), you’ll be swept away.

The hit US single Come With Me Now immediately follows and drops another infectious opening hook that keeps on getting better. This, again, is anthemic in the extreme and a dizzying cross between Eels, Mumford & Sons and Kings of Leon.

But here’s the thing. They can do less pumped up, more overtly radio friendly and cross-over (aka pop-rock) as I Want To Know proves. Combining easygoing melodies, reggae tinges and another sing-along chorus, this is as feel-good as it gets.

Escape, meanwhile, slows things down a tad further and even draws favourable comparisons with both Keane and Paul McCartney. It’s just a really solid song that endears, even when opening into a more drum-driven chorus.

Elsewhere, the momentum continues. Further highlights come from the playfully frisky Sex On The Radio, which again drops a pop hook, sharp melodies and a snappy, instantly likeable chorus with hand-clap beats that lend the song plenty of toe-tapping energy.

While the stripped back, acoustic Traveling On again showcases a more sensitive, intimate side that offers a welcome, well-realised break. It’s the cigarette lighter moment.

Take Me Back, on the other hand, amps things up once more and slow-builds its way to impressing you with their alt-rock credentials.

Admittedly, there are some songs that don’t register as strongly as the best the LP has to offer. But in the main, this hits the target and heralds the arrival of a really great new US rock act.

Download picks: I’m Only Joking, Come With Me Now, I Want To Know, Escape, Sex On The Radio, Take Me Back

Track listing:

  1. I’m Only Joking
  2. Come With Me Now
  3. I Want To Know
  4. Escape
  5. Kids These Days
  6. As We Are
  7. Sex On The Radio
  8. Hey I Don’t Know
  9. Traveling On
  10. Take Me Back
  11. It’s A Good Life
  12. This Time I Won’t Forget