Returning from its nearly six year hiatus, Montreal duo, The King Khan & BBQ Show, has put forth its first release since breaking up. The new album, Bad News Boys, incorporates the best of the band’s past records—garage punk elements and soothing harmonies—serving as reminders of its solid production capabilities. The duo splits duties evenly, both members playing an array of instruments and switching on and off vocally. Despite spending the past decade mastering its signature sound, with a purpose of framing the unrestrained lyrics, this mastery has consequently led every album of the band’s to sound the same. While Bad New Boys features the usual cohesive instrumentation and intriguing lyricism with brave consistency, there’s no trace of experimentation; the band has produced yet another carbon copy of its debut album.
Canada native The King Khan & BBQ Show are products of two former bands—Spaceshits and Les Sexareenos. Mark Sultan, performing as BBQ Show, started Les Sexareenos following his and King Khan’s departure from Spaceshits in 1999. BBQ then left Les Sexareenos, too, pursuing a new project with King Khan in the early 2000s, spurring the birth of The King Khan & BBQ Show, though the first release wasn’t until 2004.
No elaborate techniques or instruments are used on Bad News Boys, but the basics serve these guys well.
The album gives off a chill, retro-surf vibe, which sounds a bit reserved for a duo as eccentric as The King Khan & BBQ Show. The record slides from upbeat, meticulous strumming and drumming on “Illumination” and “D.F.O.,” to slower paced songs paired with ballad-style lyrics. Khan’s soothing vocals enhance the different messages behind each song, tackling topics of love, pressure to be an idol, and societal frustrations, Bad News Boys is lyrically sound.
“Kiss My Sister’s Fist” serves as a warning to a sister’s love interest. Chanting over fast-paced guitar and drumming, creating an anxious, crazed tone, Khan sings, “Watch and wait/She’s launching/Her bait/I hope for your sake she ain’t hungry/…Well I hope you’re an organ donor/Cause she won’t take no prisoner.”
The aggressiveness heard on “Kiss My Sister’s Fist,” trickles into “D.F.O.,” the most abrasive and shortest track on the album. A “Fuck you!” from Khan opens the track before thunderous drumming roars out over slamming guitar riffs. What follows sounds more like Khan stringing angry, partial sentences together, rather than cohesive thoughts. The song is unexpectedly abrasive and doesn’t fit with the rest of Bad News Boys lyrically or musically.
A better reflection of the duo’s lyrical skills is found in ballad-style, “BuyByeBhai.” Lighter in tonality, Khan howls out lyrics concerning a lover he no longer wishes to dedicate his time or attention to. With a certain rawness to his voice he wails, “Little girl/Soon to be haunting my dreams/So baby/Oh baby/Hear you cry cry cry/Soon we’ll be drifting apart/… Ain’t not use in calling my name/Cause I won’t be there this time/No I won’t.”
The instruments on Bad News Boys are cohesively layered with neither the lyrics nor the music overwhelming the other. Unfortunately, the repetitious nature that blankets the album can’t be overlooked. As a band so overtly confident in its musical ability, why wouldn’t some experimentation be attempted—especially after a return from a lengthy break? Sure, old fans will enjoy Bad News Boys, but how is The King Khan & BBQ Show expected to grow as musicians if the same album is produced every time it makes new music? It’s not fair to the duo or its fans to settle on the same sound formula it has already experienced success from.
The King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys tracklist:
- “When Will I Be Tamed?”
- “Ocean of Love”
- “Snackin’ After Midnight”
- “Killing the Wolfman”
- “Never Felt Like This”
- “Zen Machines”