Sheffield’s very own Reverend and the Makers have just returned with their sixth release, and follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed album – Mirrors – with possibly their most impressive – and expansive – outing so far.
‘The Death Of A King’ was released on 22nd September via Cooking Vinyl and it certainly grabs the listener’s attention with its enormously varied palette and ensemble contributions. The band have done a stunning job of taking such a seemingly unconnected set of songs to create something that is impressively coherent. This may be as a result of being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Thailand.
The band decamped to remote fishing village – Bang Seray – to record the album. As the band arrived, however, things took an unexpected twist when the controversial King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, died. It provided the band with a fantastic name for the album though.
Album production was by Dave Sanderson and he has really brought out the tonal link to place. It’s reminiscent in many ways of McCartney and Wings’ results on the recording of Band on the Run, where they moved production to Lagos in Africa.
“We loved the recording abroad thing after the last album. Gives the albums a flavour of their own and so we thought we’d give Thailand a try, take the family and all that. I’ve been there before and Pete and Carl raved about Bang Seray so we took all the gang out there. Loads of us. It had finally got back to that big collective I’d always wanted to create”.
Reverend & the Makers were originally born out of a collective of musicians; ‘The Death Of A King’ renews the original spirit of the band and sees lead vocals shared on certain songs with other band members – ‘Juliet Knows’ (Joe Carnell), ‘Auld Reekie Blues’ (Eddie Cosens) and ‘Black Flowers’ (Laura McClure). Jon McClure (lead Maker) said:
This is a brave album that sees the band taking risks. It takes a lot of confidence and self-belief to put out an album which challenges the listeners expectations to this extent and provides such a cornucopia of sounds. The good news is that the results are triumphant. Like all the best albums, it is shaped by its current and its past but creates a sound that transcends both. ‘The Death Of A King’ is like a Tardis in album form, bigger on the inside than one might initially think and able to transport passengers in an instant through space and time.
Opener ‘Miss Haversham’ starts off with what sounds like the eerie strains of music floating up from the wreck of a 19th Century Windjammer – a bit like Gavin Bryars’ haunting ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’. The song then moves into a driving beat with indigenous chanting and the general feeling of a powerful, strutting force (bit of an album theme that!).
‘Auld Reekie Blues’ is a totally different vibe though, with lovely vocals from Eddie Cosens and a production that sounds more than a little Beatlesque with a hint of ‘Let It Be’ era Spector – all luscious strings and Motown influences. An easy choice for single.
‘Bang Seray’ is an instrumental which is the first time the album sounds explicitly like its location – the sound is essentially a traditional Thai folk tune with the band jamming over it, getting increasingly louder until they are creating a driving, lolloping beat. You half imagine them standing on the bow of a long-tail boat on a purposeful journey to discover some as yet unfound riches on the Thai coast.
‘Boomerang’ is a beat laden, trippy, loopy – in between worlds – kind of affair that gives you time to reflect before the band rip into the ballsy single ‘Too Tough To Die’ – the sonic equivalent of a band strutting with chest out and taking it to the world. Destined to become a classic crowd pleaser. The video for the single is an extract from a film shot in Thailand and directed by Shaun James Grant.
‘Carlene’ clocks in at only a minute – a snippet really – and for a second I thought I was listening to Martha My Dear off The White Album (more Beatles influences again). Actually, it would have been nice to have seen this as a piece joined to something else in true Lennon / McCartney style but it still makes a really nice stopping place after that typhoon of ‘Too Tough To Die’.
‘Monkey Sea, Monkey Do’ is a slightly gentler cut until the last 30 seconds where the band turns it up to 11. ‘Black Cat’ is a corker – think a Halloween version of ‘The Importance of Being Idle’. There are hints of Oasis on this album too. This is a really interesting and playful tune and I was half expecting someone to starting singing about ‘Jungle VIPs’ as the song gets into it’s dixie band groove.
‘Autumn Leaves’ has a fantastic fuzz guitar (a screech really) added to the song which give it an ethereal, otherworldly quality. ‘Time Machine’ underscores the earlier comments about this album navigating – like the Tardis – through space and time. ‘Juliet Knows’ is a much more straightforward acoustic number which sounds like it was recorded around a campfire on the beach with friends watching transfixed.
Album closer ‘Black Flowers’ features Laura McClure on vocals and sounds like an epic spy thriller tune or the next Bond theme. It’s really that good. It changes gear a third of way through into another rocking, guitar-drum-boat-ride along the coast with spray in face before changing gear again. The final third breaks into a sea of swirling guitars as if Pink Floyd had decided to drop by for a jam. What a way to close a fantastic album from a band who are enjoying making music.
Reverend & The Makers have announced five shows in October and November, with support from Will And The People.
14th Garage, Glasgow
25th Electric Ballroom, London
27th Academy, Sheffield
28th Academy, Sheffield
4th Academy, Manchester
The full track-listing for ‘The Death Of A King’ is:
- Miss Haversham
- Auld Reekie Blues
- Bang Seray
- Too Tough To Die
- Monkey See
- Black Cat
- Who Am I
- Time Machine
- Juliet Knows
- Black Flowers