The Norwegian psychedelic power-pop band I Was a King is quite short on originality. But because the group so wonderfully and seamlessly assimilates the core essence of so many of my favorite bands, I am wholly infatuated and in no way complaining.
I Was a King’s new self-titled album starts with a cacophony of Spiritualized guitar feedback and chord progressions, giving way to Apples in Stereo vocal chemistry, a Fountains of Wayne chorus and a Polyphonic Spree-style dense and celebratory roar. On the second song, the Teenage Fanclub-esque “Step Aside,” IWAK settle into an identity that dominates the rest of the album: the collective reincarnation of the ultra-cool U.K. Creation Records label.
From the mid-1980s to the late-1990s, Creation’s neo-psychedelic roster energized Britpop with layered and barbed guitars, dreamy, infectious melodies and wildly imaginative new production sounds. I Was a King simultaneously combine the slurred shoegazer riffs of My Bloody Valentine, the warm swoon of Ride, the bouncy effervescence of the Boo Radleys, the sharp power-pop rush of Teenage Fanclub and the smooth songwriting craft of Oasis. With gooey bubblegum male/female vocal harmonies drenched with garbled guitar noise, I Was a King also frequently echo the California band Medicine, whose debut album was released on Creation.
Even though I Was a King aren't really pioneering any new musical ground, the band’s recycled influences still have enough mileage in them to sound fresh and fun in a decade short on new musical ideas. —Michael David Toth
I Was a King play the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) on Wednesday, May 27, with Dreadful Yawns and Kong Sauce opening at 9 p.m. Tickets: $8-$10.