On their sixth album, Reverend & the Makers continue on that path they started to explore in 2015’s Mirrors. A change in sound that conveys both maturity and a need to move away from a genre they knew too well and exhausted with their first two albums.
The Death of a King goes for a full, lush sound, that deftly changes from classic sixties pop to world music. No need for the experimentation from @Reverend_Makers, that album that was more Mongrel than anything else. By no means does this imply that @Reverend_Makers was bad, in fact I think it was a necessary change to bring a new phase for the band. You’d get hints of this new direction with Thirty-Two, a further shove with the gorgeous Mirrors and now, with The Death of a King, their new identity is defined. It feels confident without resorting to bravado.
The aesthetic of their videos, heck, of the entire album, is VHS Indie*. Faded, washed out images imbued with tracks that deliver a hook while style providing a swanky atmosphere. Letting other people in the band take over lead vocals, a resource tapped in Mirrors, comes back again. Ed Cosens, conveys a forlorn delivery in ‘Auld Reekie Blues’, a wistful track peppered with French pop sensibilities while mantaining that stoic British resolution of hope.
‘Black Flowers’, the momentous album closer, deserves praise. A dash of Madchester, augmented for 2017, folded seven times as Laura McClure‘s vocals traipse in a hitherto unknown jennel. The lenghty track allows for crisp aural experimentation, giving the final moments of the track, and the album, a sombre ending. “Poignant” is not the word that I want to use, so bookend will do. It closes The Death of the King on the correct mood.
Even when the older rock sound of the band is revisited, something changed. Lead single ‘Too Tough to die’ is the only real loud (or ‘banger’, as people in the know call ’em) track in the album and the gorgeous lead in to the explosive track is ‘Boomerang’, a slow burner that sets the stage. Here’s the problem, without the context of ‘Boomerang’, ‘Too Tough to die’ would seem like a step backwards in musical evolution. Take this is as an argument towards consuming The Death of a King as an album instead of a terrarium of singles.
The Death of a King is a coherent album, a watermark on the career of the band. It brings back the album experience and that’s its greatest strength. Ten years have passed since Jon McClure dove into the music game and Reverend and the Makers should feel proud of what they achieved: a long distance jump away from the indie sound that gave birth and killed Sheffield‘s music scene.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López