Album Review: The Kill Devil Hills 7th album, the masterful Matango!

The Breakdown

Matango! is a triumphant return to the airwaves for The Kill Devil Hills following a lengthy intermission since their previous album, Pink Fit. Was it worth the wait? We most certainly believe so.
Bang! Records 9.2

6 years on from their last release, Pink Fit, The Kill Devil Hills have released a juggernaut of an album in Matango!

For those who may be unaware of The Kill Devil Hills, they are a band from Western Australia who play what has often been referred to as acoustic folk-rock. However, while this fits with some of their earlier music, it would be a travesty to encompass their sound with just this moniker. This is a band that has continued to evolve across their 20+ year existence.

The complexity and dynamic nature of the music they now produce almost belies true definition, much like the music catalogues of the likes of Nick Cave and Tom Waits. Perhaps alt-country meets folk rock meets noise rock meets art rock meets jam band could suffice?

As with many albums released in the last year or two, Matango! was borne out of the ashes of the Covid-19 pandemic, and sees the band at their creatively, and eclectic best.

Around four years in the making, the album opens with the darkly cinematic and dissonant Survivor Guilt followed by This Is Karrakatta, a grindingly visceral track that could easily have been penned for the aforementioned Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds.

Following this is the pre-album released single, The Day The Dinosaurs Died, a fabulous paean to the loss of childhood inquisitiveness and perhaps, innocence.

The album is a wonderful testament to the collective talents of this highly creative band. Brendon Humphries distinctively rich vocal style is a hallmark of the album, though drummer/percussionist, Todd Pickett manages to take over lead vocals on the Waits-like Patrician Facade, a track which highlights his flair and skill beyond the standard drum kit.

While Mantango! takes the band into lots of new and exciting sonic territory (listen to the discordant Unlike Hemmingway Said which goes back-to-back with Patrician Facade), there is a welcoming comfort in hearing some of the classic, brooding KDH sound in tracks such as Atomic Kitty and Thirteenth Sunday through to the delicacy of Weight Of A Woman and the sprawling wonder of New Ordos.

Matango! is a triumphant return to the airwaves for The Kill Devil Hills following a lengthy intermission since their previous album. Was it worth the wait? We certainly believe so. The album is out now via Bang! Records, and is available through the band’s Bandcamp page here.

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