Kings Go Forth

The Outsiders Are Back

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This is the first full-length album from this self-consciously retro soul-funk ensemble from Milwaukee, a band that for some reason saw fit to name itself after a Frank Sinatra/Tony Curtis war movie. The group's real affectation isn't its name, but its sound: The Outsiders Are Back was recorded in such a way as to make it sound like a late-'60s or early-'70s production from one of the influential soul labels in Chicago or Philadelphia. The danger with this approach, of course, is that you'll end up fetishizing the (marginal) sound quality itself, and what made those records great in the 1960s and 1970s was not the fact that they sounded like they were recorded through a number-ten tin can. What made them great was the quality of the songs and the funky energy of the playing, and luckily, Kings Go Forth figured that out long ago. So "One Day" is a frankly thrilling Latin-soul workout with a brilliant horn chart and beautifully multi-layered percussion; "I Don't Love You No More" is even better, with an even tauter energy and groove; and "Don't Take My Shadow" revives all the string-laden kitschiness of vintage disco and reclaims it for the new millennium. "Get a Feeling" is an attempt at reggae that never quite gets a handle on its chosen rhythm (the chopping backbeats feel like an afterthought, not an integral part of the song's groove) and the lead singer has a tendency toward flatness -- but overall, this is a sweatily brilliant example of soul revivalism, and the world needs as much of that as it can get.

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