After a few good listens to King Charles‘s peppy debut album, LoveBlood, one thing becomes clear: Charles Costa, the man behind the King, has a few go-to items.
The 11 tracks weave in and out of each other by relying on the same motifs: major keys, tight 4/4 rhythms, and lyrics that keep mentioning love, lust, blood, and a girl named Isabel, all sung in Costa’s lilting English accent.
But that’s about it. The rest of it is a tribute album. King Charles may be searching for his royal sound in his first album, but he’s only managed to find others’.
“LoveBlood,” the album opener, evokes Vampire Weekend with island-jam guitar riffs and a Koenig-like yelpy voice. And “Mississippi Isabel” is every happy song you’ve ever heard that uses hand claps — that is, terribly light and fluffy and you don’t mind.
“Bam Bam” is a eerily similar re-imagining of Cake’s song “Carbon Monoxide,” which I rocked out to an embarrassing amount in early high school. The resemblance is uncanny — at least to anyone who spent lots of time listening to Cake, which only a few people might readily admit to. “Love Lust,” albeit a damn catchy track, rolls through its repetitive chorus and builds it into something larger by the end–i.e., it’s King Charles’s stab at Fleet Foxes.
“Beating Hearts” sounds like a slightly less heartfelt Mumford and Sons, and “Coco Chitty” is a strange (and probably unintentional) tribute to Dave Matthews Band. The frenetic background lick on “Wilde Love” could have been plucked from Foster the People’s “I Would Do Anything For You.”
Costa hits a few targets on the head: “The Brightest Lights” exchanges his usual metronomic rhythm for a more country soul feel and injects a little feeling into an otherwise sterilized album. And for all the silliness of songs like “Lady Percy,” they’ll worm their way into your ear with impressive strength.
It could be that LoveBlood is really more of a blank canvas or a collection of songs that listeners use to revisit the other artists lying in their brains. LoveBlood was a pleasant listen but kept reminding me of things outside of it instead of surprising me with what was inside. But not everyone hears a chord and thinks of Cake. Try it for yourself.
King Charles- LoveBlood (download)
King Charles- The Brightest Lights (download)