Kongos

Lunatic

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"I'm Only Joking," the opening cut from Lunatic, the sophomore outing from Arizona-by-way-of-South Africa-based indie rockers Kongos, thunders in on a bedrock of thick, tribal toms and similarly dense, compressed guitar that suggests Muse by way of Konono No.1. It's an aesthetic that weaves its way throughout much of the album, and brothers Dylan, Daniel, Jesse, and Johnny Kongos, the sons of South African singer/songwriter John Kongos (who hit it big in 1971 with the single "He's Gonna Step on You Again"), generate a huge sound for a four-piece. The sleek, circular, and piston-like "Come with Me," with its relentless, accordion-driven Soweto pulse and slick, falsetto-driven modern rock flourishes, sounds like Rammstein riffing off of Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble, while the more refined, yet no less danceable "I Want to Know" dims the lights for a bout of churning, midtempo reggae with electro-pop tentacles. The worldbeat influences are applied relatively seamlessly throughout, though each of the 12 tracks are, at their heart, radio-ready slabs of stylish alt-rock in the vein of Kings of Leon, pre-Kid A-era Radiohead, and even Coldplay. There's a wan, vaguely Everyman lyricism at work here as well, which makes some of the slower numbers a bit of a chore, but when the band lets it rip, as in the case of top-down, desert road jams like "Hey I Don't Know," "It's a Good Life," and the aforementioned "Come with Me," Lunatic earns the shifty weight of its unhinged moniker.

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