Five years after first introducing themselves to the world, KING wish to do so again with the plainly stated We Are King, the group's debut LP. Made up of producer Paris Strother, with sister Amber and Anita Bias on vocals, the trio begin the year looking to expand on the critical honours they garnered with 2011's The Story EP. Across just three songs, that release demonstrated L.A.-based group's unique, interweaving sound, steered them to touring and led to working with the likes of Robert Glasper and Prince.
All three songs from that 2011 release reappear here in somewhat extended forms, the best of which is "Supernatural," which now benefits from a rich piano-accompanied intro. "Mister Chameleon," their uptempo, Elle Varner-like 2014 single, also finds a spot in the We Are King track list. As good as these older songs are, though, it's the new ones longtime fans will be most interested in.
"Red Eye" is KING doing what only KING can do, as crescendoing synth leads layer up like an infinitely expanding choir to complement Amber and Anita's vocals, which are delivered with loop-like consistency. Equally remarkable is "Love Song," a voluptuary number with whistled accents that Paris expands upon with every second bar. Their predilection for pairing base melodies with an unceasing pile-on of instrumentation is executed well again on "Carry On."
While there are no full stumbles in this debut LP, there are a few points where the group's strict adherence to the 70BPM range hinders listener excitement. While "The Right One" serves as a suitably airy introduction, it's immediately followed with the equally chill "The Greatest," a song only distinguishable by its 8-bit retro vibe. It's not until we get to track three before things open up and the trio make good on their potential.
Sequencing issues aside, the strength of Paris' production is the biggest standout aspect of the project. If the years spent between releases had anything to do with making sure the beats were adequately rendered, those were years well spent. (King Creative)