Friday, 20 March 2009

Knight School - The Poor and Needy Need to Party

Right, Ok. It has been while, I know. I’m really busy doing my Masters of International Studies and my quick trip to the Golden Plains festival in Victoria two weeks ago REALLY ate into my time. Still, I have managed to grab about ten short minutes to tell you my thoughts on the debut long player by Brooklyn band KNIGHT SCHOOL called THE POOR AND NEEDY NEED TO PARTY.

Being poor and needy myself, I certainly could do with a party. But does this record deliver on its ostentatious promise?

I’ve been listening to them on and off on after reading about them over at Alex’s blog, and I felt compelled to purchase their record through their label . Also, the five pound asking price seemed extremely reasonable. I’ve had it about a week and a half and given it a few good spins on the ol’ compact disc player. The conclusion? Well I think it is nice little record that has some notable highlights.

In terms of value for money, the record is a winner. However, is it the best record of the year thus far? Hrm, probably not. Will playing this record at your local speakeasy let you ‘make friends and influence people’, well, I’d say ‘highly probable’.

And the reason is thusly. KNIGHT SCHOOL write short,straight-to-the-point pop songs, some that you might like, some that you might not like as much. If, for some reason, you dislike a particular song, you’ll only be waiting a maximum of two minutes before the next song clicks around. And that song might be a winner, you never know.

Generally, all the songs are short, snappy, simple, but in a positive fashion. It could be just me but I sense a somewhat LEMONHEADS vibe on some of the tracks, at least in terms of chord construction rather than lyrical content. Most songs feature jangly sounding guitars, low fidelity vocals and drums all drenched in reverb (some vocals are almost indistinguishable). Occasionally, you’ll hear a keyboard and sometimes can make out the bass guitar. Sounds like a badly idea to record in this fashion? Well, not always, it is a conscious stylistic choice.

The album starts out with 'Pregnant Again'. Immediately, you could be forgiven for thinking that the tune was recorded in a basement using extremely low quality microphones (chances are it was). Most of the time I really am endeared to the DIY ethic that attaches itself to low fidelity recordings, ('Bee Thousand' by GUIDED BY VOICES being one of my favourite all time records), but for some untraceable reason I’m a bit sceptical of some of the production choices on this album.

And the reason for my scepticism is grounded by the fact that I think the better recorded songs on the album are actually more likeable tunes. It gets me to think that had 'Vampire Schmampire' not sounded like a rehearsal room jam session and crammed into between two other tracks, and was recorded, say, like the excellent 'Who the Fuck Hung the Moon?', perhaps I would have enjoyed these songs slightly more.

Your could be forgiven for thinking that I am being overly pessimistic. Well, I'm not trying to be, I'm simply just pointing out minor discrepancies in an otherwise excellent pop narrative. Track four, 'Maggot' is the standout, and for me really begins the album in earnest (actually, first song where I can hear the bass guitar standing out of the mix). It justifies purchasing the album simply on its own merits.

A string of really excellent tunes follows including the aforementioned 'Who the Fuck Hung the Moon?', and 'Mother Gas Station'. The LP finishes with the joyous 'Oprah (Open Your Eyes)' replete with a great little lead melody during its middle section.

THE POOR AND NEEDY NEED TO PARTY reveals that KNIGHT SCHOOL will be a great future prospect. There are some great songs here, and considering the price tag of the album, it is a worthy purchase. Check it out on (you can stream the entire thing here) or purchase the album from Lostmusic.

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