I feel it necessary to begin all three of these reviews (Moonflower Lane, Massive Grooves... and Tapehead) with the same somewhat negative introduction, to put what I then say about the individual albums into an overall perspective. I was financially restricted for a good portion of 1998, but when I got myself out of the hole, I purchased all three of these CD's the same day as a sort of late Christmas present to myself.
My initial reaction, therefore, was similar to what I had often with Ear Candy, which is that heavy=Doug, mellow=Ty. Now that they were allowed a complete split, the difference became even more dramatic. In addition, the vocal harmonies on both solo efforts suffer, since one person doing each part gives it a one-dimensional feel. (The thing that makes Freddie Mercury great is his ability to layer 100 vocals of himself onto Queen tunes, but the result is just one giant Freddie, not a rich harmony.)
Doug's songs come off kind of uniform because of his limited guitar chord choices, which may be due directly to his personal playing ability. Although hitting on some harsh topics like murderous spouses, homosexuality, and various personal tragedies, many of the lyrics are simplistic and derivative odes to shaking, grooving or believing in music. Deeper meanings may just be lost on me because I haven't dug into this enough.
Ty's songs are kind of thin and straight, with little groove or depth, and slip occasionally into the guitar-ego showing off his chops territory (although only mildly). The lyrics are stronger than Doug's in many ways, but don't carry a lot of emotional weight, opting to tell a story rather than be one.
So, as much as I truly enjoy both solo albums, they eventually just leave me wanting more of these guys as a band. In addition, the absence of Jerry on all of Ty's and most of Doug's tunes just emphasizes what a different kind of drummer he is compared to the mainstream style of the other players. The way the three King's X members complement each other's styles makes a conjunction that is far greater than the sum of it's parts. Upon listening to the new album, having now vented their individual ideas, it's sounds the most like songs were written as a group since the first couple albums. I've listened to Tapehead probably five times more than the solo albums.
Now, on to the individual reviews:
I was deliberately giving the albums some time to settle in my mind before getting back to this, but I've taken most of a year now, so here goes nothing.
I find this hard to admit, but I don't love this album. I like it, mind you, but it doesn't hit me the way the band's material usually does. I've already spoken of it not holding a lot of emotional weight. I think that comes from the fact that Ty has very strong religious beliefs, but doesn't want to hit anyone over the head with it like most of the "Contemporary Christian Music" scene does. As an unfortunate result, most of this album's themes are watered down. Ironically, the songs about his faith on other albums, which speak of it more sublimely, come off more honest and direct than a lot of what's here.
Musically, the songs are well crafted, well performed and so wonderfully recorded it's no wonder he became the outright producer of the band on Tape Head.
Maybe I'll throw out more in the future, but this will stand as my review for now.
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