Published on November 24th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant0
King Khan & The Shrines – Idle No More
It’s been six years since the last true King Khan & The Shrines album (not counting compilations, etc), but let’s hope that they can make up for this lacklustre record with the live show. Because ‘Idle No More’ shows us a King Khan (a.k.a. Arish Ahmad Khan) that has had the wind sucked right the fuck out of him. Gone is the greasy, shuffling, screaming, sweaty swagger he’s known for. ‘Idle No More’ has an immediately noticeable drop in energy. (And yes, you are correct, the album is named after the Canadian Aboriginal rights protest movement, though there aren’t any overtly political lyrics).
From what I can gather, the album is such a bummer, because Khan himself has been bummed out lately. He recently lost several friends to the Grim Reaper and supposedly had an intense falling out with Mark ‘BBQ’ Sultan, a guy he’s worked with for years. King Khan is the big band leader, charged with keeping the party going forever and ever, but if the hangover has inevitably set in, then he’s hiding bloodshot eyes behind his Raybans like Slurms MacKenzie. If the album was perhaps more gutsy and confessional, or played up the idea that he deserves a night off to reflect on the casualties of the party, I could forgive it for sounding tired. But it just plods forward, like Slurms, dancing through the night, while whispering “Kill me,” in asides to anyone that’ll listen.
That’s not to say the album is terrible, by any means, and I’m sure that some might disagree with me on the validity of the album or the directions it takes. It still carries the horn strikes and jangly percussion of someone dipping their psychedelic garage rock into a vat of funky soul, but it almost feels like it wanders into a more Brian Jones-era Rolling Stones territory. It’s not bad, but when I get the hankering for King Khan, it’s specific hankering, and unfortunately, the chef forgot to spray the hot sauce on this album. In those moments where I need to kick the party into a higher gear, I’ll reach for something in the back catalog instead.