Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – Texas Sun (LP)
23.00 € inc. VAT
Khruangbin is a three-piece band from Texas, formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Johnson on drums. Taking influence from 1960’s Thai funk – their name literally translates to “Engine Fly” in Thai – Khruangbin is steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool.
From their respective metropolises, Khruangbin and Leon Bridges offer fascinating variations on the notion of “Texas music.” The Fort Worth-based Bridges explores a strain of soul that is more closely associated with Mississippi and Chicago than the Lone Star State, while Houston trio Khruangbin dabbles in a strain of globally minded, stoner-friendly psychedelia that authorities didn’t always look upon so kindly. Today, both artists find themselves rising stars, garnering millions of streams and promoting the vision of a more diverse and open-minded Texas, the one that leads to headlines like this.
The two teamed up for a joint North American tour in 2018, but heading into the studio together wasn’t an obvious next step. Their partnership might pay dividends down the road, but at four songs in 20 minutes, Texas Sun is both tantalizing and a little half-baked. The title track gives a glimpse of how each party might bolster the other: Khruangbin bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer, and drummer Donald Johnson impart some much-needed looseness and pliancy to Bridges’ vocals, while the singer in turn grounds their wandering with song structures and sturdy vocals. “Texas Sun” is a simmering road-trip number, with Bridges’ delivery rendering that oppressive sun into something more mellow. Khruangbin provides a head-nodding beat, but for all of their synergy, the result still resembles boilerplate Bob Seger.
The slinky “Midnight” could have been cribbed from a Numero Group Eccentric Soul compilation. Bridges’ lyrics again situate us in a moving vehicle, this time at night instead of the sweltering midday heat. They conjure a wistful mood, with lyrics that detail a new love in the passenger seat, cruising around with no particular destination in mind, smoking with the windows down, the backseat beckoning from the rearview mirror. “Put on your lavender/Perfume and a nice dress,” Bridges croons sweetly.