We hadn’t heard from This Other Kingdom in a while, so it’s a relief that they’ve gotten to the point of releasing their debut LP. So many bands decide to pack it in before achieving that milestone, for reasons financial, interpersonal or otherwise, but TOK haven’t just fizzled out after releasing stop-gap track Rise at the tail end of 2013, so they’ve already done well for themselves. Their first full-length is set for release next month, and ‘Telescopic’ is a powerful opening statement that should ensure they have an eventful year.
Their sound is an arresting hybrid of psychedelia and rock’n’roll, and has been refined considerably since the release of their ‘Sunlight’ EP almost two years ago. The noisy squall that opens The Day, Your Day indicates that the quartet (Del Kerton, Declan Dunne, Fran Mulholland and Chris Sweeney) haven’t toned things down since their last outing. If anything, they’ve pursued a more aggressive sound this time around; Mulholland’s bass is prominent in the mix, combining with Sweeney’s drumming to lend their songs the power they need. There’s no shortage of low-end, so bass heads will certainly be satisfied by the likes of He Controls The Sea, an early album highlight.
One major pitfall the record manages to avoid is one that is readily associated with this sort of music – it doesn’t prioritise quantity over quality, so there are no ten minute tracks present on ‘Telescopic’. Rewind // Refind is the longest track on the album, and even then it’s just shy of five minutes long, showcasing the band’s ability to explore their ambitions without losing the run of themselves. There’s a succinct feel to much of the material on offer here; these songs do what they need to do and do it very well.
The three-song run from Egocentric to Vacate the Horror (which takes in the sumptuous instrumental Betwixt along the way) is marvellous, showing off the subtle intricacies of TOK’s more melodic side before providing the listener with an atmospheric palate-cleanser that makes way for the borderline violent aggression of Vacate the Horror itself. The track already featured on ‘Sunlight’, but is reprised here with cleaner production in line with the rest of the record. Impressively, it manages to sound even more full-on and unhinged. It could cause chaos at their forthcoming live shows – don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Penultimate track FineLine was also carried over from the EP, and it provides a much-needed reprieve after Red Balloon, setting up the closing track in fine style. Not only is the album a concise package, it ebbs and flows in all the right places, the track listing more considered than one would expect from a band at this early stage in their career. Not content with merely throwing a bunch of songs together, This Other Kingdom have put a considerable amount of thought into how their debut is structured. The pacing’s immaculate, the songs are top-notch, and there’s no sign of filler. ‘Telescopic’ is surely a primer for a long and fruitful career.