The Legendary Pink Dots

All the King's Men

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The companion album to the more cohesive and slightly more aggressive All the King's Horses, All the King's Men is a much more murky puddle of psychedelia if you don't get the back-story. Early in 2001 the Dots' main man and lyricist Edward Ka-Spel started working on his "Unlikely Event" piece. The story was of a man on an airplane about to crash and his attempt to reach his wife's cell phone, only to get voicemail. The events of September 11th of that year had his sometimes too hardcore following declaring him a prophet once again. Regardless, All the King's Men is chilling without the synchronicity and a pensive, confused triumph. This is a more personal view of disaster with a "what can you do?" message. On "The Day Before It Happened" the main character is planning to get his teeth fixed next year, only listens to ten percent of what his spouse is saying, and doesn't get much rest. Sad, and it's not that Ka-Spel has thrown a "Live Everyday Like It's Your Last" bumper sticker on his car, but it's as close as he's come to making a comment that reaches everyone. The album's argument is that tragedy doesn't always come with foreshadowing and there are few ways to prevent it. All the King's Horses floats above and around disaster and everyday life with detachment. The story isn't linear, it jumps back and forth in time, and three instrumentals only hint at the concept with their combination of everyday piano and darker electronics. Ka-Spel's lispy and meandering vocals are way up in the mix, which makes him sound right next to you through headphones. You have to be predisposed to the Dots for the album to work at all, and even then it's more of a "mood" album than usual. This is glum stuff but Ka-Spel is inspired, and with a little explanation the complexity and obscurity pays off.

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