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King Black Acid

Loves a Long Song

(Cavity Search; US: 3 Oct 2000; UK: Available as import)

Over the last 10 years, somehow Eddie Vedder’s seriousness spawned a legion of “alterna-rock” singers who sound like every word they speak is the most important thing ever uttered. That by itself wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if most of their lyrics weren’t absolute nonsense. This “serious alternative guy” voice has crossed out of “grunge” into every other made-up subgenre of “alternative” music, from soft rock (Hootie and the Blowfish) to slightly less-soft rock (Matchbox 20) to all those bands who sound exactly like ‘70s hard rock but insist on being called “alternative.” I think Smashing Pumpkins fit in there somewhere as well. And Live. And Candlebox. And Creed. Sorry, I could go on like this forever.


King Black Acid doesn’t necessarily fit with those other bands as far as musical categorization goes, but they have the same sort of singer. And the lyrics are as banal as ever: “dark” pseudo-poetry straight out of high school creative writing class. Lots of references to good and evil, and generic song titles like “Into the Sun” and “Kiss the Beast”. The end result of the “serious guy” voice, for me, is that instead of thinking everything he says is important, I immediately think everything he says is a put-on, that he doesn’t believe a word he says. One of these singers could say something that might change my life and it would fly right past me, just because of the way he sounded when he said it. I suppose it’s all about drama. The “serious guy” singers come off like first-time actors, where they emphasize every word so much because they want you to know that they’re really acting.


King Black Acid’s Loves a Long Song is 100 percent drama. The title is about the only thing here that comes across as an honest statement. King Black Acid does indeed love long songs. Nearly all of the eight songs last around the 10-minute mark. This by itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, except that they seem to love long songs for the sake of their longness. Most of these songs are three-minute rock songs stretched out for an extra seven. Musically, King Black Acid aren’t the psychedelic metal band that their name might suggest, though the music does have elements of both. They’re a rock band, on the relatively heavy side, but with a dose of keyboards and a tendency to make everything a little dreamy (a necessary step in song elongation).


To be completely honest, it’s terribly difficult to listen to this many long songs after you realize what the formula is like. The most memorable song here is also the shortest, and that’s no coincidence. “Colorado (Wherever It Is You Are)” has a nice melody and a pretty bed keyboards and guitar. The lyrics still make no sense (the Cliffs Notes version: “I’m in love with you, and I’m a liar), but the song’s a great argument for brevity. Yet you and I both know that the song’s length is only because it’s there has to be one potential radio hit. It’s in the “how to be an alternative rock success” textbook, right next to the advice to “make your record cover look spooky,” and “include numerous oblique references to both pain and love”.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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