DRGN KING – ‘Paragraph Nights’

…“Wild Night” feels somewhat like waking up from the best dream with your alarm clock on full blast.” – Grafton Tanner weighs in on the newest release from DRGN KING, on Bar-None Records.

Grafton Tanner

out of 10

Drgn King
Paragraph Nights
Bar None Records

DRGN KING’s Paragraph Nights boasts one of the most deceptive album introductions I’ve heard in a while.  The piano and synths found on the title-track opener are reminiscent of Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica, and the sparse guitars and drums let the track breathe and move in a way that promises greater fulfillment later on in the course of the album. Such is not the case, and I guess a red flag would have been the oddly placed programming (drum machine claps) that bleeds the title track of its organic instrumentation. What follows and what pervades the majority of Paragraph Nights is an admixture of indietronica, electro-tinged pop, and something like Arcade Fire minus any complex emotional sting. I’m not entirely sure what a “paragraph night” is, but the jarring contrast to such is DRGN KING’s club banging single “Wild Night.” Immediately following the brief and plaintive opener with four-on-the-floor barroom revelry, “Wild Night” feels somewhat like waking up from the best dream with your alarm clock on full blast. Riding that same over-wrought energy, DRGN KING kicks into “Holy Ghost,” which could scan as the worst nightmare for anyone mildly invested in Arcade Fire’s sonic innovations.  Bass and bass drum bounce in unison while edgy guitars stab over Suburbs-ian instrumental flourishes (synth glissandos and string flutters). This is what Win Butler and the gang would sound like if, god forbid, they ever wanted to ruin their music career. Thankfully, though, this is DRGN KING, whose M.O. is to create heavily-produced, tightly wound pop songs that only borrow the basic tenets from the supermarket of Indie-dom.

DRGN KINGMidway through the album, “Barbarians” arrives to present yet another big-hearted presence on this LP: Muse.  The sexy drum loops placed over live percussion and half-whispered vocals combine to create the perfect B-side to Absolution.  DRGN KING,however, is more interested in the pop side of edgy music, the side heard in its most distinguishable guise in the first two Mutemath records. But then comes the outro to “Barbarians,” which illustrates their propensity to really nail the atmospheric noise that is the only aspect currently setting them apart from every post-MGMT electro band. These moments, regrettably, are few and far between.

DRGN KING posted a telling photo of their method of song classification, and though such artistic inventory is crucial in fashioning any large-scale music release, the photo gives insight into the demarcation that ultimately splits their music into two camps. Paragraph Nights has its high and low points, as should every good album, but there is nothing in the form of bridges that adhere these two musical moods together. Instead, Paragraph Nights gives us bone dry heavy-hitter after heavy-hitter with brief interludes of what I consider their best music.

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