US - North Carolina - Full Moon 112 - 11/16/05
The Kingsbury Manx
The Fast Rise and Fall of the South
Sigh. I love The Kingsbury Manx. Their music is indescribably lovely. Their eponymous debut and the follow-up Let You Down are two of my favourite records. I was less enamoured with Aztec Discipline, and felt like a great album could have been made out of the best tracks from that and the Afternoon Owls EP that came out around the same time. Thankfully, with The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, the Manx are on the up.
They're back on form, but with a different sonic palette. Whereas the debut and Let You Down demonstrated a mastery of several apparently disparate genres, this new album treads a straight line through country folk territory. There's nothing remarkable on offer here, but where this album succeeds is in
creating an absolutely charming tone throughout. The performances are precise, the production lends the simple arrangements much-needed space, and the songwriting is strong.
I enjoy listening to this record straight through, but there are several moments that have me reaching for the volume knob so I can crank myself into heaven. Opener "Harness and Wheel" is plain beautiful; the aching sway of the chorus to "Greenland" is genius, but I can't quite explain why; "Nova" leans towards the more psychedelic moments from their debut, which is very welcome; and finale "Ol' Mountainsides" hinges on some very subtle drum work, before leading out with satisfying snarls of feedback.
This new album, as wonderful as it is, is more encouraging to me as a potential direction for their next recording. I'd like them to lose their restraint a bit and get a bit more swirly and lysergic. Who knows? Either way, this is a lovely album, and comes highly recommended.
Copyright © 2005 Tim Clarke