The Outsiders Are Back
Based on the high-energy, big-band soul sound of its early singles, Kings Go Forth was immediately pegged as another retro R&B outfit stubbornly committed to disregarding anything that’s happened in the genre since 1973. Just as quickly, the group pushed back against the tag, playing up the Latin and Carribbean music influences that suddenly seem much more apparent on KGF’s debut full-length, The Outsiders Are Back. Perhaps the only thing that’s truly old-fashioned about Kings Go Forth at this point is its adherence to physical music formats: Just as the punchy drums, brassy vocals, and drama-packed arrangements of “One Day” and “Don’t Take My Shadow” are ideally suited for the boredom-averse 45 single, the polyrhythmic mid-tempo groove that dominates The Outsiders Are Back requires two sides of long-playing vinyl to fully appreciate.
While the joyously vengeful “I Don’t Love You No More” approximates the exciting sound of KGF’s singles, The Outsiders Are Back is less about churning out updated James Brown jams for people that can’t get into The-Dream than it is about recreating the feel-good, “We’re all brothers” vibe of hippie-friendly, multi-ethnic ’70s funk acts like War and Tower Of Power. The insistent pull of a smoking 10-piece band compensates for some of the shortcomings in the songwriting, though more languid tracks like “Fight With Love” and the ska-infused “1000 Songs” don’t have strong enough hooks to be anything more than pleasant background music. But even the less distinguished material at least sounds pretty great, and will offer accompaniment for conversation and cold beverages at all the barbecues The Outsiders Are Back will inevitably soundtrack this summer.
The Outsiders Are Back is in stores today. Kings Go Forth plays a record-release show April 30 at Turner Hall. Check milwaukee.avclub.com for an interview with KGF's Andy Noble on Wednesday.