(24 January 2005) Hungry Lucy, one of America's best "goth-tronica" bands, have released their third and strongest album to date entitled To Kill a King (HLCD003, 2004). Fans of Hungry Lucy's earlier albums Apparitions (review/interview) and Glo (review) will be highly pleased with this third outing. Hungry Lucy, who are War-N Harrison (instrumentation) and Christa Belle (vocals), have lost none of the dark charming moodiness that have made their first two albums such huge indie successes.
This time around, the arrangements and music are even better. The tone of the songs on the album drift from the ethereal to the folksy to the ambient/elctronic/trip hop realm. To Kill a King shows a marked development in the songwriting of the group and explores new territory. "Rainfall" is, melodically speaking, one of the best songs on the album. With catchy acoustic guitar rifts and a gurgling electronic backdrop, Christa Belle's innocent and clear voice, sounding very much like Candice Night of Blackmore's Night (feature) rides prettily over the dreamy soundscape.
The brooding "Softly" is a wonderful blend of 4AD gothica with light touches of American-western slide guitar--ingenious stuff. In "The Chase," Hungry Lucy have crafted something that would sit comfortably in the Suzanne Vega milieu, but with a special pinch of otherworldliness that one might hear on a Love Spirals Downwards album. A suprise on the album is the largely instrumental number "A Lifetime Remains." A melancholy and introspective piano line is occassionally interrupted by strange and rich bellowing sounds as though a large bird were flapping its wings overhead. This song is both musically interesting and displays Hungry Lucy's more innovative side.
The lush ambience of "Shine" is a swinging/trip-hoppy tender piece that incorporates ethnic percussion and Indian flavors. "My Beloved" is almost hymn-like with epic and sweeping organ swaths. Although the music is uplifting and hopeful, the song never sounds contrived or overwrought.
Never ones to slack in the remix department, To Kill a King includes four bonus mixes. And fortunately these mixes rock! The F9 Mix of "The Chase" is pure 80's retro-clash fun. Pusling beat and rolling bass-line convert this song into a New Order-esque synth joy. The F9 Mix of "Shine" is equally successful, but more modern sounding in its invocation of Delerium-styled arpeggiation. The Null Device Mix of "You Are" is a dark piece of stabbing synthetic lines and punching beat that retains a gothic bent. Finally, the Trigger10D Mix of "To Kill a King" hovers on the border of deep-house. Anyone that thinks Hungry Lucy are all sweeping sorrow should check these remixes out.
Hungry Lucy improve with each album. To Kill a King is a very finely-done album and notable contribution to the genre of female-fronted bands.--Justin Elswick in Provo, Utah and Russ Elliot in New York