Elliot Baker attempts to put together the jigsaw that is Reverend and the Makers’ The Death of a King, and comes up a few pieces short.

The moment I heard the lead single from The Death of a King, the contumaciously-titled Too Tough To Die, I decided that I was going to like this album.

If this single, complete with distorted guitars, heavy piano, and rollicking drums was any indication of the RATM’s work, this album was going to go straight to the upper echelons of my “End of Year” list.

Then I got the album.

To be clear, I don’t dislike the The Death of a King. It just leaves me wanting more – and not because it’s so brilliant you just can’t bear for the adventure to be over – rather because, when it ends, all you can think is: “Wait… that was it?” A lot of these songs simply feel unfinished.

There is nothing wrong with a song being short – but it should only end once you’ve said what you’ve got to say. On a lot of these songs, not much is being said at all. Carlene clocks in at a minute – just as we start to invest in the story of this “other woman” we get pushed into Monkey See, Monkey Do. We want to spend some time with these narratives – to really dig into the story and invest in these lyrics.

One critique which cannot be levelled against The Death of a King is its variety. There are echoes of Damon Albarn, Jake Bugg, and even Sheffield rivals, Arctic Monkeys. Each song sounds distinct – the boldness, adventure and experiment that seeps through the record is compelling.

From the bluesy beginning, to the jungle-inspired Bang Seray, and then the quietly introspective Juliet Knows, The Death of a King makes a valiant attempt to take us all over the map. We just don’t spend enough time in any one place to truly appreciate it.


The Death of a King by Reverend and The Makers will be available from September 22nd.