Northern Irish artist Pat Dam Smyth’s sophomore album ‘The Last King’ is a mesmerising a follow up to his critically acclaimed 2012 debut ‘The Great Divide’ as it journeys through the stories of the singer’s youth. Inspired by the raw stories of his own life including growing up during the troubles, his discovery of rock music and his time spent in a psych ward in Berlin, the production is hypnotic and deep.
Right from its first notes, the opening track ‘Kids’ takes hold of listeners with its swirling synths and Pat’s basal vocals. ‘Kids’, as the lyrics so aptly describe, is the soundtrack of the singer’s youth, and it establishes itself as a very early highlight within the ten-track offering.
Following on from the strong opener is the guitar-led ‘Catch A Fish’. Another heartfelt story-telling expedition that leads into the upbeat ‘Last King’. The slow build title track makes use of booming sonics layered by soaring vocals; loud, clear and memorable it becomes another early highlight.
While the individual stand-outs are undeniable impressive, what is most noteworthy of ‘The Last King’ is the album’s – and the singer’s- ability to shift easily between happier rock-tinged instrumentals to transcendental melodies before moving back again.
The haunting orchestral stylings of ‘Doesn’t Matter Now’ blends seamlessly with the soft, swaying beats of ‘Another World’ before the mysterious electronic sounds ‘Juliette’ takes hold, leaving in its wake a memorable guitar solo which blares and crescendos.
Following track, ‘Dancing’ keeps the high of the previous tracks intact, but fails to impress as much as its predecessors, as the production pales sonically in comparison. Penultimate track ‘Teenage Love’, brings back the sensory pleasures as it leaves ears tingling in anticipation for what’s to come; and final track ‘Where The Light Goes’ doesn’t disappoint. A lullaby of sorts, that starts off soft with minimal instrumentals- just an acoustic setup accentuated by the depth of Pat’s vocals - it the final touch of calm in this musical journey, before the beats of drum push listeners to another journey beyond.
Ten tracks that merge together and yet stand out majestically with individual strength, ‘The Last King’ the kind of production that plays the role of a soothing embrace at the end of a long day. It falls short of perfect, as some tracks - such as ‘Goodbye Berlin and ‘Dancing’ - seem repetitive and dip in authenticity. But the imperfections can be overlooked as the end of the album comes with the distinct craving for more.
Words: Malvika Padin
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