Walker Kong: There Goes the Sun

Jason Thompson

Walker Kong

There Goes the Sun

Label: Magic Marker
US Release Date: 2001-07-10

This poor disc has so far been referred to as everything except its correct name. I first saw it listed as There Goes The Sun by a "Walter Kong", and then later as being recorded by "Walter Knog", and even "Walker Knog". Three different sources, mind you, all unrelated. When I finally got my package of monthly discs, I was wondering where this Walter was. Then it dawned on me that there was no Walter or even a "knog", but instead there was Walker Kong and There Goes The Sun. And guess what? That's right. There is no "Walker Kong", either. Just a band running about with said name.

Now that we have all the confusion cleared up, we can hopefully address the band and its music. Walker Kong features Jeremy Ackerman on vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, and percussion, Alex Ackerman on vocals, bass, and percussion, Emily Cahill on drums and backing vocals, Tony Mogelson on guitars, Kevin Riach on percussion and drum (singular, yes), and Sara Vargas on various old and new types of keyboards. Damn. How many drummers, percussionists, and keyboardists do you need? Especially when your band sounds like a standard four-piece outfit with the expected overdubs here and there?

I can't say that I'm completely smitten with Walker Kong. The semi-nod to the Beatles in the title of the album pretty much speaks for itself. You basically get some psychedelic-inspired retro-sounding pop here. However, instead of going the familiar route that many indie pop bands take these days by trying to echo the Beatles, Walker Kong sounds more like late '60s Moody Blues. The opening track "My Photographer Friend" has enough trickly acoustic guitars, soft-focused brass, faux Brit accents and an air of delicacy that wouldn't seem out of place on In Search of the Lost Chord.

But then things turn about and "Executionersong" has an organ line that sounds like it was ripped right out of "96 Tears" and an odd bit of Human League-ish new wave textures. In fact, this may as well be a dead ringer for those responsible for "Fascination" and "Don't You Want Me", although there's still a hint of Moodies going on what with the acoustic guitar melody lines. Completely weird.

This oddball sense of being stuck both in the late '60s and early '80s continues to twist through tunes like "Viva Homosapiens" and "Skyscrapers and the Moon", rendering them as nothing much more than pop curios. I have to say that it definitely makes the album a lot more trouble to get into than it is worth. Hearing the songs, you get a sense of something just not being quite right. And I suppose such a mix just isn't the best recipe when all is said and done. It certainly doesn't help the schizo-like mod-a-go-go cadences in "Pulitzer Prize".

However, I do have to say that I like the song "Calvin Rae" which sports female lead vocals and less of a sense of needing to be retro. In fact, it's probably the most original thing going on here and would have been nice if the song's sound had been more of the focus throughout the disc instead of what the band presented overall. But it's only one song out of twelve, and that, my friends, is not a very good ratio of hits to misses. Put it back on the shelf, as they say.

I admit to being stymied here as to what Walker Kong is attempting with their songs. The sound of them is so surrealistically dated that there never was a spot that I felt I could comfortably enter and enjoy the disc, save for "Calvin Rae". There Goes The Sun is undoubtedly one of the strangest albums released this year, but it's far from being the best . . . or even just plain acceptable, for that matter.

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