This may sound like a bit of a harsh thing to say but King Canute would have been perfect Radio One fodder if “Drive” had been released 10-15 years ago. It’s not that they necessarily sound dated but if you cast your minds back to the previous decade then you’ll remember there was a flurry of indie rock bands with only a drummer and a guitarist/bassist to try and sound more ‘original’ than a standard guitar/bass/drums outfit, and it’s not hard to imagine King Canute being championed by bandwagon jumpers like Jo Whiley after they’d spun the latest hit single by The White Stripes.
Which is kind of unfortunate for the band as when you’re listening to “Drive” it is hard to get that thought out of your head. Opening track ‘Cocaine Skank’ rides in on a sweet groove that brings to mind early (i.e. good) Queens of the Stone Age with a bone-dry production and desert rock feel. However, the track does lose a little of that vibe when the vocals kick in; imagine QOTSA or Kyuss fronted by a British melodic punk voice and you’re there, although it doesn’t quite work as well as it may do in your head before you hear it.
The title track follows and is the best song on the EP, a funk-driven bass riff over a steady backing creating the sort of heavy stomp that rock club dance floors were made for. The vocals also cause less of a problem here, the voice sitting amongst the grooves rather than trying to sneer over the top of it.
If ‘Cocaine Skank’ echoed QOTHSA then ‘Trash Talk’ blatantly goes for the tribute and sounds like an outtake from “Rated R”, perfectly fitting that early-2000s Radio One playlist vibe. It’s not bad and could have been a hit single a few years back but the nasal whine is a little distracting again after getting it so right in the previous song.
The EP is rounded out by ‘Hellmates’ and hits a Green Day bounce that’ll likely sound awesome live but feels a little restrained in the confines of the studio. Overall, “Drive” is fine as a sampler as to what you can expect from the band and there is a rawness to a lot of their sound that’ll explode in a dingy rock club when they hit the road but to break it down into it’s separate parts does the band no favours at all. Musically, they can play, they have energy and they can create a rock solid groove but the limitations of being just two people and not having a dedicated singer will ultimately go against them.