Khruangbin Find Depth in Simplicity on 'A LA SALA'

BY Oliver CrookPublished Apr 5, 2024


Listening to Khruangbin's A LA SALA feels like a summer evening dip in a serene bay. The dusk sky above is beautiful, while the slight breeze bristles skin, raising a field of goosebumps. The palms sway to an imperceptible rhythm, everything so calm, all in sync. A LA SALA is a vibe, a much needed sense of serenity in an endless whirlpool of chaos.

Khruangbin's particular genre melange is difficult to pin down — they often end up the recipients of those ridiculously long genre names, undercutting the reason behind the shortcut. The difficulty to define comes from their malleable softness, their insistence on weaving effortlessly and comfortably through whatever sounds the song demands of them. It's an approach few could pull off without becoming faceless, but, despite being "the band that did every single thing wrong," Khruangbin never sound like anything but Khruangbin.

A LA SALA is their most stripped-back record yet, a breezy, distilled balm for those moments when you want to softly float on the sound's surface. The trio set out to craft a soulful plane on which to play, slipping in a funky moment here, exploring a streak of sombreness there. It's contained but never stifled, and the band thrives in these newly pared-down sonics, the minimalist palette forcing them to dig in and expand on ideas that seemed previously exhausted.

What makes Khruangbin one of the most reliable contemporary bands is that every trip back to their waters reveals further depth. There's a whole world beneath the surface — the swaying seaweed of a bass line, wrapping itself around you until you give yourself fully to its hypnotic pull; guitar lines that ebb and flow like deep-water tides. And are those voices you hear in the distance? The joyful shouts of those throwing themselves completely into A LA SALA's waters? Perhaps, or maybe it's just bird calls on the breeze, whistling over the calm surface.

The true magic of A LA SALA, however, is discovered upon returning to its shores. It changes with your mood, shifts with the time of day or the weather. If stressed, the calming sense of "Caja de la Sala" erodes away the edges and leaves anxieties smoothed right over. If you want to party, look no further than the rocking joy of "A Love International."

A LA SALA is an endlessly rewarding album. There's always something new to be discovered in its haze, a whispered lyric between the layers, a little pebble of meaning waiting to be overturned. Like most great experiences, what feels simple gradually grows to encompass a vastness of feeling — life changes in increments, after all. 

(Dead Oceans)

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