Dusted Reviews

The Kingsbury Manx - The Fast Rise and Fall of the South

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Kingsbury Manx

Album: The Fast Rise and Fall of the South

Label: Yep Roc

Review date: Sep. 29, 2005

With The Fast Rise and Fall of the South, Chapel Hill’s Kingsbury Manx continue to refine and rethink their sound; indeed, it’s hard to believe that this is even the same band that recorded the excellent self-titled debut back in 2000. The oceans of distortion and reverb-soaked guitars characteristic of that album have almost entirely receded on The Fast Rise, giving way to predominantly acoustic textures and folk-rock songcraft.

In many ways, The Fast Rise, their fourth full-length, sounds like a logical development from the band’s last album, 2003’s Aztec Discipline; both albums shy away from their predecessors’ drone and shoegaze tendencies, but this time the style takes a sharp turn into folk territory. This folk, however, isn’t the currently trendy kind associated with Devendra Banhart, but rather a decidedly less hip one that owes more to Simon and Garfunkel, The Byrds, or more contemporarily, Elliott Smith.

Main songwriter Bill Taylor may not be a remarkably talented melodicist – the Manx’s tunes have never been the kind to get stuck in your head – but the band’s arrangements do wonders for his simple motifs. The most impressive moments here are ones that initially glide by unnoticed, like the electric piano interlude on “And What Fallout” and the French horn countermelody on “What A Shame.” A song like “1000 8,” probably the album’s strongest track, fails to gain a foothold with a catchy melody or chorus, yet shimmers nonetheless, punctuating its verses with soaring mellotrons before diving into a whirlpool of echoing guitars and analog synths. The great care that Taylor and Co. put into elements that have little to do with traditional song structure are perhaps indicative of a stylistic hangover from their earlier work: even if the songs on The Fast Rise sound like typical folk-pop, they’re executed according to a different logic that focuses more on texture and instrumental interplay than on song structure.

The surprising idiosyncrasy of The Fast Rise and Fall of the South make it less accessible than it initially seems. It’s hardly “pop” in any conventional sense even if it works with a similar palette, and probably won’t satisfy anyone looking for a hummable tune. Nonetheless, it’s an uncommonly complex and subtle record from a band that have mastered their craft. The Fast Rise and Fall of the South continues the Kingsbury Manx’s string of beautifully enigmatic albums, and represents the band’s most unique and cohesive work to date.

By Michael Cramer

Other Reviews of The Kingsbury Manx

Aztec Discipline

Ascenseur Ouvert!

Bronze Age

Read More

View all articles by Michael Cramer

Find out more about Yep Roc

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.