King's X
Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous

King's X has long been a band's band, creating music that has inspired the bands that have made it big but King's X has yet to find the commercial success they deserve. Judiciously using jaw-dropping amounts of musicianship, King's X mixes heavy grooves with melodic pop, topping it off with a layer of outstanding vocal harmonies. After a number of albums that were more like solo efforts by the individual members, Please Come Home...Mr. Bulbous is a welcome return to group writing. At their best, the band creates a kind of musical chiaroscuro with bassist Doug Pinnick's rumbling, dark grooves and pained, earthy voice contrasting with guitarist Ty Tabor's Beatlesque leanings and ethereal vocal harmonies, all held together by the outstanding drumming of Jerry Gaskill. The result is an interesting pastiche that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Overall, the album is darker than their last release, taking the energy of Dogman and adding the kind of songwriting prowess found on Gretchen Goes to Nebraska. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into reworking these songs, adding extras that make for repeated listens.

"She's Gone Away" finds Tabor singing of a missing love against a simple backdrop before slamming into a heavy chorus full of layered vocals. Gaskill appears to be writing some lyrics again, as evident on the eerie "Smudge" with such lines as "At the bottom of a box of five black markers is a buried Swedish pen" and references to Mr. Wilson from their Faith Hope Love album. "Move Me", the final track, is a soaring, epic invitation to a higher power that has the same feel as "Burning Down." Though it changes almost daily, my current favorite is "Julia." Beginning with a verse that has the same feel as a minor version of the Beatles song of the same name, the group takes the listener through a tunnel of aggressive progressive rhythms to a central bridge in 3/4 time and back again. Please remain seated for the entire ride.

After seven studio albums, King's X is anxious to show that they still have more than their share of tricks... surprises wait around every corner and the song writing is more solid than they've produced in years. The amount of texture and depth in every song is absolutely amazing- there are no filler songs. Longtime fans will be delighted to hear this collection of songs whose strengths mirror those of the bands "classic Sam Taylor" period while the broad array of innovative songs will serve to draw new fans to this talented band that refuses to be a musical footnote.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, May 2000.