William The Conqueror - Bleeding on the Soundtrack - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

William The Conqueror - Bleeding on the Soundtrack

by Kevin Orton Rating:7 Release Date:2019-02-15
William The Conqueror - Bleeding on the Soundtrack
William The Conqueror - Bleeding on the Soundtrack

“You remembered my name and I’m so glad you came,” William the Conqueror declares on the hook-laden opener to Bleeding On The Soundtrack.  ‘Path of the Crow’ is a soaring start then the groove-laden, ‘Thank Me Later’ kicks in and I can’t help but be reminded of Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians’ ‘What I am’. It’s a funky, amiable Pop number that doesn’t step on any toes or reinvent the wheel but has some lyrics that seeks to confront some notably bad behavior. “Not the sink but the whole fucking kitchen,” Ruarri Joseph croons in his easy-going baritone.

‘Madness on the Line’, sounds less like madness and a bit like the Dave Matthews Band playing at the Bluesier side of The Doors. “Not enough of the good stuff but too much cheap cocaine,” and cue a song bent on taking the braggadocio out of more than casual drug use. If it’s a song that’s meant to be edgy, the band seems more at home in the soft Roots Rock balladry of, ‘The Burden.’

The title track is a touch darker, with an eye towards the fucked-up things alcoholics are wont to do, “Hurricane Martini seems so middle class, I told my friends it was whiskey from a broken glass.”  Stark, desperate lines which seem at odds in Joseph’s easy, laid back delivery. Add to that clean cut, casual Roots Rock backing. All of which makes all the bad behavior documented in Bleeding On The Soundtrack seem at odds with the production and delivery. I’m not saying this music doesn’t come from the heart but William The Conqueror on the whole sound a bit too laid back with the dark subject matter and the polar opposite of being on edge. So ultimately, its very pleasant Indie Rock performed without any of the Sturm un Drang depicted in the lyrics.

‘Looking For The Cure’ is more convincing. The optimism in the music buoying Joseph’s searching lyricism. ‘The Curse of Friends’ shows that even William the Conqueror’s dourer, stripped-down side is not without an innate Pop sensibility. And it’s that Pop sensibility that makes the bouncy likes of ‘Be So Kind’ sound a little cheesy when the country fiddle kicks in.

Bleeding On The Soundtrack ends with the album’s most beguiling song, the Bluesy ‘Within Your Spell’. Acoustic guitars abetted by fiddle and woozy slide guitar. “I fall asleep in heaven but I wake in hell,” a line that can’t help but come from the gut. It’s here where the performance nearly rises to the occasion of the lyrics.

Without a doubt, this is pleasant listening. The songs are solid, the production tastefully commercial. Yet, given the subject matter of these songs, it all begs for an edge that is decidedly lacking. I’m not saying every album about drug and alcohol abuse has to be Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral but something riskier than a Kings Of Leon Pop approach might have served things better. There’s an oomph missing. And when you have gritty things like Lou Reed’s ‘Waves of Fear’ and John Lennon’s ‘Cold Turkey’ out there dealing head-on with the same issues, Bleeding On The Soundtrack sounds like the sunny suburbs in comparison. Without a doubt, lyrically this is a dark night of the soul. But one dressed in comfy, feel-good Roots Rock. There’s a bit of a disconnect between the lyrics and the execution. It’s all just a little too smooth and laid back. Regardless, there is real talent here. Would just like to hear them take the kid gloves off and ruffle their own feathers more.  To quote, ‘Thank Me Later’, I’m not hearing “the whole fucking kitchen”. Overall, these are some nice sounding tracks but it sounds like much care has been taken not to spill too much blood on them. 

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