Adam Gilbert fuses together a fantastic blend of piano-pop and stadium-rock, while finding time for a few stripped-down ballads along the way.
Title track ‘A Generation Of Forgotten Kings’ opens the album with anthemic “woah-woah-woah”s and soaring guitars, before the track settles into Gilbert’s trademark vocals and piano playing.. Think of Editors taking themselves less seriously, and you’re halfway there. By the closing moments of the track, you’ll be ready to listen to it again.
‘How Do We Respond’ takes a softer approach. Gilbert’s voice shows influences from Morrissey with a slightly lilting vibrato, while the guitars bring a shade of melancholy to the track.
‘On A Hill’ sees things stripped back even more. Things begin to come across as ever so slightly over-earnest, but the lyrics and vocals remain convincing enough to be emotionally engaging. The track reminds me slightly of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, but it’s original enough to stand on its own.
Single ‘Steady As We Go’ draws all the focus towards Gilbert’s piano playing while he croons softly over his ivory-tickling. The track’s chorus has a curious ebb and flow to it which doesn’t go quite where you expect it to, keeping the song interesting to the ears.
The middle of the album does hit a bit of filler – ‘Everywhere I Go’ is fairly unremarkable, while ‘Were Accountable’ sounds like a close cousin of one of the slower numbers off the early Muse albums – although things dial up again on ‘This Old World’ when the strings kick in, all soaring and hopeful.
‘Stay Awhile’ showcases a darker tone to the piano, creating an atmospheric track on which you can picture Gilbert alone in a low-lit room playing softly, while the rain comes down outside.
‘A Generation Of Forgotten Kings’ closes with the track ‘Listen’, again drawing on the Muse sound. It’s at this point however, with the sum total of the album to look back on, where Adam Gilbert’s genius becomes apparent. To fuse the sounds of Muse, Keane, and Editors (admittedly all British – perhaps its more my own influences that are showing in the context of this review!) but to also draw on the pop-rock sensibilities of Ben Folds is no mean feat. As the album comes to its conclusion, we are left on a high of scowling guitars, defiant pianos, and yearning vocals. Recommended.