Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous

King's X

Metal Blade Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


King's X is a band that remains an enigma to me.

On one side, you had the trio - guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor, bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick and drummer/vocalist Jerry Gaskill - exploring both a more spiritual side to themselves (without ever proclaiming themselves as Christian rock) as well as worshipping the Beatles in their songwriting. On the other side, you have a band who is desparately trying to move away from the Christian rock tag and trying to capture the glory they've been fighting to claim for 20 years.

King's X is an enigma to me because, whenever I pick up a new release by them, I never know which band I'm going to be listening to. And I admit I'm a few albums behind the times (though I still have Tape Head to download from - relax, RIAA, it's paid for). So I admit to being at a little bit of a disadvantage when it came time for me to listen to their latest release Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous.

What I heard was a very pleasant surprise. I now heard a band who were not taking themselves so seriously as to make their music seem sterile, and while there is still the adoration of the harmony vocal, it was used extraordinarily well. This is a straight-out rock album that challenges you to throw away any preconceived notions of who you think King's X is and demands you take this one on its own terms.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's not always the easiest thing; Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous is the kind of disc that you need to listen to at least twice. I actually stopped the album midway through, thinking I had missed an intregal part of the band's strategy, and started over from the beginning. Turns out I was right to give the first half another listen, as I heard new things to bask in that I hadn't heard before.

There is still a little bit of sonic weirdness on this disc, such as the rambling spoken-word break in "Fish Bowl Man" and the foreign language intros of several numbers. But they keep this to a minimum and focus on the music - smart move. Tracks like "Julia," "Smudge" and "She's Gone Away" all shine brightly, daring to suggest that King's X could well be back on their way to the level of fame they were at around the time of Faith Hope Love a decade ago - that is, if they got the right breaks.

There are some tracks that need to grow on you, such as the previously-mentioned "Fish Bowl Man" and "Marsh Mellow Field," but given enough time and attention, they quickly prove themselves to be well worth the effort. The disc closes out in a strange way with two parts to the song "Move Me". This is strange in that the track appears to be seamless when you don't pay attention to the clock on the CD player, and is a wonderful piece of music that dares to suggest that King's X is producing the best music of their career.

The only finger-wagging I think I'd do at this point comes with the "hidden track" - which is nothing more than a little sonic feedback and another foreign-language bridge. My feelings on burying bonus material more than 20 seconds past the listed end of an album is well-known - but if you're going to make me sit through a few minutes of dead air, at least offer me something more to chew on than this.

Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous is not the kind of disc you'll get on the first listen, even if you've followed King's X throughout their career. But if you're willing to give it a temporary home in your CD changer and you listen to it a few times, its true beauty will come through. And while this disc is a very good outing, it still suggests that the best may be yet to come from King's X.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.