[15 October 2007]
Durham, North Carolina band the Future Kings of Nowhere take acoustic Americana and strap it to indie rock’s fun and reckless engine. Album opener “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” has irrepressible energy and some trickily catchy chord changes. “Never” is more straight-ahead, but just as propulsive, and “C Is for Heartache” nods to the folk-punk of the Femmes. Punched up with horns, closing track “Paper Napkins” saves one of TFKoN’s very best cuts for last. On a few songs, however, the band sound a bit too much like Bright Eyes, especially with regards to singer Shayne O’Neill’s cadence and melodic choices. Still, if you’re going to borrow from anyone on the scene, Conor Oberst’s style is a very fine choice. Another point of distraction is that O’Neill occasionally wanders distractingly out of tune (“What You Don’t Know Might Kill Me” being the biggest offender). Other than those quibbles, The Future Kings of Nowhere is a solid debut of exuberant, rural-tinged pop music. This is one of those first albums that’s best described as “promising” rather than “fully realized”, but this new band is well on its way.