The agonisingly long and tantalising wait for the new album from the Birmingham-based three-piece is now over. After a wave of behemoth singles that set the bar high, can Kaftan Society carry on the praise?
Opener ‘Gimme Some Time’ sets the mood, and as I said in the single review back in May, ‘There’s something beautiful about the way it rolls along like an eighteen-wheeler about to mow you down.’
Any song following on from the impressive ‘Gimme Some Time’ was always going to be in its shadow, and that’s where ‘Gone’ finds itself. However, it’s a dramatic medium-paced slice of Blue Nation’s signature sound, managing to take on a funky life all of its own. ‘Be Back Soon’ has an infectious taste laced throughout that is both upbeat and fresh, wasting no time in delivering what it sets out to do; to grab your full and unabated attention.
The next two songs are shining examples of the band’s quality. With ‘Rich Girl’, originally proclaimed as a ‘slice of anthemic rock of astronomical proportions’, those words still ring true despite sitting on an album laced with huge riffs the size of a dinosaur. It’s an absolute belter. ‘Cold Night’ hints to a more laid back, folky vibe. It’s a very different sound for the band, yet it becomes distinctive enough that if you were only to hear the opening section then you would immediately identify it as Blue Nation. Tender and heartfelt, the track is criminally short and although something of a strange anomaly, it gets better with every listen.
In late 2017 when reviewing the single ‘Good Times’, I originally said: ‘While hardly a complex song, it’s a gripping, thumping and powerful track, embracing the vibes of some of their influences, from Led Zeppelin to the slightly heavier work of The Beatles.’ It truly is the quintessential offering here, an arena-ready anthem that you’ll be singing long after it’s finished. ‘Down By The River’ is a real foot-stomper of a rocker. Neil Murdoch’s stellar voice is as rich as any you will hear, singing each line as if it’s his last. On more grittier tracks such as ‘Rich Girl’, the lead guitarist sinks his fangs well and truly into the jugular and doesn’t let go, shaking you around for the ride, whereas on ‘She’s A Storm’ his voice is filled with a wistful sadness that compliments what is something of a haunting piece. More mellow than previous offerings, ‘She’s A Storm’ is completed by lush strings that beautifully work in tandem with the talented three-piece. It’s another gem on an album full of them, and put simply, is hypnotically gorgeous. All the music here has a sense of focused purpose, a driving message that embeds itself deep into your brain until you understand what it is saying to you: You will like this album.
‘The Ranger’ is a pulsating, filthy number that oozes with attitude as it pounds along like a relentless rock monster. The album then shines a light on the band’s softer side as it closes with the stirring ‘It Ain’t Easy’. A blissful way to wrap things up, this gentle song soars high and never looks down. Something this inventive and striking can’t be denied and is testament to their talent as musicians. Crammed full of big riffs, heart, soul and just about everything but the kitchen sink, Kaftan Society is one hell of a ride. From the knockout one-two of ‘Good Times’ and ‘Down By The River’, to the subtler works of magic on ‘She’s A Storm’, does the album merit the praise that the singles have deservedly received? Absolutely. Let the good times roll.