You rarely hear the term heart-throb these days. As out-dated as that Bill meme and blonde highlights, the term describes “a man, typically a celebrity, whose good looks excite romantic feelings in women.”
King Charles is probably best described as a heart-throb. Listen to his second album, Gamble For a Rose and you’ll understand why. Hailing from London, he’s got a British accent ready to send fan girls into a frenzy (think The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, One Direction). He’s also a visceral lyricist, with a bit of an Alex Turner vibe, and vocal chops reminding me of Matt Corby.
With help from members of Mumford & Sons, Noah and The Whale, a killer voice and acerbic wit, King Charles should thrive on Gamble For a Rose. So why does it all feel a little flat?
Gamble For a Rose was co-produced by good friend Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons). After an intense bout of touring: 28 days and 28 nights, ending with a headline at the London Forum, Charles finally wanted to “make the album [he] should have made 5 years ago.”
The two worked on the album on a farm (so whimsical), with mattresses against the walls and a strived to make something incredibly real. They jammed with a bunch of old friends – which is pretty good when your old friends include Charlie Fink and Tom Hobden (Noah and the Whale) and Winston Marshall – and in the end came out with Gamble For a Rose.
Have a listen to the album if you dig Boy & Bear. Most of the tracks remind me of their stuff. Loose Change For The Boatman is a mellow love song, with dreamy violins and soaring vocals. The chorus is catchy with a good beat, but it doesn’t hit anything ground breaking. This track is good enough to sing along to, but I’m not sure it’ll change your life.
Choke is probably the most folky track, showing off impressive electric guitar chops. He asks, “why did you choke all my love away/why did you throw it all away” against a dramatic backdrop of angsty heart break sounds. A recipe for folk pop success, but again – nothing ground breaking.
Lady of the River is a solid track for a road trip. Triumphant and uplifting, King Charles has some seriously beautiful vocal chops worth lending your ears to. Mixed with his deep and brooding song writing and a good set of instrumental tracks and you have an album ripe for commercial success.
It’s a shame then that a lot of it feels cliché, as if he’s not attempting to take a risk and create something different. The track New Orleans feels a bit disconnected from the audience. Can anyone really relate as he sings, “I left you in a hotel in New Orleans….There’s nothing you can say/nothing you can do/ I will always love you.” Maybe it’s my geographical distance, or the fact that I’ve never been to a hotel in New Orleans, but there’s something that feels like it’s pushing you away.
Coco Chitty is the most unique song on the album. There’s some experimental instruments over his crooning of “oh my darling, darling”, a shining example of him executing old school vibes in superior fashion. This ballad would fit well in the post break up scene of a Nicolas Sparks movie, cutting through images of the two main characters sitting in their separate bedrooms/barstools, looking into nothing and thinking of each other in a cloud of nostalgia and longing.
King Charles is a heart-throb making heart-throb music, and if you’re into folky love songs with more romantic fluff than raw rock and roll, you’ll really like him. Gamble for a Rose borrows a bit from every love ballad you’ve ever crossed paths with. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard it in the Top 10.