Despite being a recording artist in his own right, King Tuff AKA Kyle Thomas has also performed as part of Ty Segall’s backing band, The Muggers. The Other is King Tuff’s fifth album and first since 2014’s Black Moon Spell. LP, CD, and Cassette on Sub Pop. There’s also a limited ‘indies only’ coloured vinyl version if you’re quick enough.
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King Tuff is the guy who can’t quite stop himself from dabbling in psych rawk pomp due to his part in Ty Segall’s old backing band the Muggers, and, maybe, I don’t know, some other things. His new record, ‘The Other’, starts simply enough, but soon it’s decorated in bombast, a splatter of fluorescent paint and synths and keyboard-programmed horns and dramatic backing vocals. “Raindrop Blue”, the record’s second track, is so much happening at once that it feels high stakes, like a warning on the eve of summertime.
Confusingly, Tuff is also like, a country rocker, maybe, opting for the cosmic Americana of Jim James on lush, waterfall twang jams like “Thru the Cracks”. Actually, did he leave My Morning Jacket’s ‘Z’ playing in the background when he recorded this one: it’s a massive, love-drenched fest with organs and harmonies and bolstered guitar swirls, everything coalescing as if ten country songs were bleeding into each other’s corners. “Infinite Mile” has a lovely, roadtripping chord progression, matched with harmonica and, uh, a synth that sounds like one of Mort Garson’s moogs. With its bold, watery production, it’s another example of his way of overworking small, traditional ideas.
It sounds like I’m overwhelmed, but I’m having a fine time: I like it more when he leans into plaintive country than slick psych rock, but you can practically hear these two themes of his career wrestling each other for first prize. I can’t tell which bits are which on the wacky and questionable “Circuits In the Sand”, which sounds like Tame Impala listening to Sounds of the Sixties at a local town carnival. Too loudly. All too loud but rather listenable, too. "Everybody's on their phones", he sings at one point, though, so he loses a point: why don't you shut up, Mister Tuff. You're no King. You can't tell me what to do.
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