King Washington - Potential

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2017-05-19

When you hear that a band “fuses” genres, it’s always going to be a risky business. Hailing from L.A., King Washington are pushing for something bigger with their latest record, Potential, hoping to merge their folk-rock with an indie-intelligence in order to capture a wider audience.

Things get off to a bad start for the boys, so often likened to Crosby, Stills & Nash. ‘My Reflection’ sounds like a Timbaland produced mess, skittering drums and a lady hollering in the background - it’s the stuff BBC Radio 1 might lap up, but it ultimately lacks soul. Even the outgoing message is muddy: “Please don’t judge my reflection” - you what?

Thankfully, what few missteps there are like this are mitigated by a sense that there is something great going on here. They’re at their best when lumbering on the safe folk-rock train of ‘Evelyn’, it’s a simple love song imbued with a passionate melody and effortless harmonies.

Elsewhere they dabble with attempts to be rousing, which doesn’t play quite as well on ‘Be Where You Belong’ as it does on ‘Climb Out The Valley’. At their most experimental, they can be fantastic, particularly on the ‘Hey Boy’, which goes from desert-cool folk to something altogether funkier - not too dissimilar to WOODS.

Clearly, this trio has an ear for harmonies, and the Crosby, Stills & Nash are warranted. ‘Superman’ flexes has them flexing those muscles best, as if they’re auditioning for the next Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape. With 14 tracks though, it’s always going to feel a little flabby. Songs like ‘I Wouldn’t Laugh About It’ and ‘New Meaning’ strive for greatness but don’t work that way, creating the sense of a slog.

A successful attempt at bending other genres into what they do best, it’s simply a case of looking at where the strengths lie and trimming out the over-indulgence. A 10 track version of this album would feel like an empowering blast of air on a hot sunny day.

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