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Album Review

King Missile's They is remarkably accomplished for an album with such a warped sense of humor. Singer John S. Hall delivers lyrics like a poet clown, as Dogbowl and Kramer's lazy psychedelic music charms. Kramer outdoes himself as a producer here, turning songs with ridiculous titles ("Leather Clown" and "The Bunny Song" are two prime examples) and even more ridiculous lyrics into quaint, obscure gems. "Mr. Johnson," written by David Keener, is particularly touching, as Hall recounts an angry older man who doesn't want the hippie protagonist and his friends on his property; the protagonist sings, "Hey, Mr. Johnson, won't you wear this flower in your hair." Similar peaceful yet anarchistic motifs run throughout many of the songs, though the final song is so crass, one has to chuckle. They is filled with potent, dark humor, but its gentle spirit and artistic puns make for a compelling listen. It's liable to surprise fans of the band's later, more fractured musical style with its fine acoustic sound. More lo-fi than later King Missile releases, but infused with atmosphere, They is a funny, melodic ride.


Formed: 1986 in New York City, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Essentially a vehicle for the musings of John S. Hall, King Missile merged off-kilter spoken word monologues with eclectic, mildly psychedelic rock & roll. Hall's dry, absurdist sense of humor colored much of the group's output, blurring the lines between comedy, Beat poetry, narrative prose, and simple rock lyrics. Yet in spite of their focus on Hall's literary bent and all its New York artiness, King Missile was most definitely a band, and relied on music to play a much more than perfunctory role...
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They, King Missile
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