San Fransisco’s Kowloon Walled City, at this point, needs no introduction. After falling hard for their 2012 release, “Container Ships” like I would a nihilist bad boy, I had pensive hopes for their third full length, “Grievances.” I knew I was into it but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Out on Neurot Recordings, it was even bleaker than their last, with less emotion to grasp onto; melodic or otherwise. It seems as though the this record had them whittling their sound down to the bare essentials, still capturing the barren, vastness of previous albums, while extending their signature guitar tones and Scott Evans’ powerfully spoken vocals.
‘Backlit’ leaves a lot of space for mystery, much like the desolate allies of of a darkened city. Each verse hollowing out a space for more questions of what could be, surrounded by structure and thoughts of all knowing. This is by far my favourite track on the album. Later, the bluesy, distorted bass tones on ‘White Walls’ get corralled into corners by circling guitar riffs. Subtle waves of cymbals crash, collecting shadow noise, perfectly blending basic and dynamic compositions to create another standout track on the album.
Though “Grievances” didn’t quite captivate me as drastically as Kowloon’s previous album, I do feel it’s only a matter of me being in a different place than what the band was trying to convey this time around. Staying true to their sound and emotion, if you were a fan of their old stuff, there’s sure to be a track or two on “Grievances” for you to resonate with. They still hold this mysterious power over me and sometimes there’s peace in that unknown.
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