River of Kings keeps things rocky on Bleak Sounds

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Bleak Sounds (Independent)

Happily not living up to its title, Bleak Sounds is a four-song torrent of markedly different moods—even if most lean in a wintry direction, gently warmed by the light of indeterminate irony.

River of Kings is the nom de solo for Vancouver multi-instrumentalist Jordan Irwin, veteran of such bands as Jakalope and Whoa! She’s a Babe. Presumably the only player on “Blacklight”, Irwin lets his multitracked voice poke through layers of acoustic and electric guitars, punctuated by grungy fuzz tones. The opening “Poltergeist” is closest to an EDM groove, although the lo-fi guitars keep things on the rocky side. Relatively cheerful chords mark “Thieves in NYC”, which features slightly more decipherable lyrics than most; I think I made out “We’ve got a live one” on the heavier “Animals”.

The brief tunes could probably use a little more shaping to be truly memorable, but the raw ingredients are so pleasurably assembled, it hardly matters.

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