“Kill All the Kings” is the debut offering from The Deathrettes that embraces garage rock and all things ‘60s, veering between the mournful and the mischievous. Appropriately, they hope to release it as a vinyl, but only if they reach their goal of 200 pre-orders.
The album starts with a wordless primer, ‘Ladybird’. Surf-inspired chords are accompanied by bass and drums which thump along like a faithful workhorse, traversing a wasteland of their own making. Things really kick off with the catchy ‘Sitting on the Waves’. Although it’s got a feel-good tune there’s an undercurrent of dissatisfaction that is apparent throughout the entirety of “Kill All the Kings”. Even in their brightest moments, the Deathrettes always hint that things are not all hunky dory as the tone plunges and peaks incrementally, veering from slightly depressing tales of woe to the cautiously optimistic and back again, all the while retaining a relatable core sound.
The highlight for me is ‘Don’t Feel Right’. Things are glaringly stripped down and simple – bass, drums, guitar and vocals plod along with minimal use of effects and as a result it’s the aesthetic of lost love and a slight fascination with death that speak loudest. “Oh you’ve got me on my knees/ You ripped my heart out” wails vocalist Dylan Rooibokkie with a vocal style that’s raw and retro and most importantly, convincing.
EP closer ‘Lips’ is a bouncy love poem that retains an element of mystery. Once again, the Deathrettes send mixed signals that string the listener along, a highly effective plot device that leaves you grasping at any odd chord tension or snatch of lyrics in an effort to decipher its message. It’s further proof that less can indeed be more.
“Kill All the Kings” is endearingly stripped down and echo pedal free for the most part in spite of the garage and psych references. But in this case the low-tech approach is a positive strategy that allows good songwriting to speak for itself, toying with your expectations and engaging your curiosity.
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Listen to “Kill All The Kings” below.