There is something positively endearing about a band as eager to please as Utah’s King Niko and, if this was the heyday of FM radio, they would be all over the airwaves, Unfortunately for them those days are long gone and their fourth album “Oh Hey!” will, in all likelihood, fail to gain the exposure it actually deserves.
It would be easy to categorise a band like this as mere revisionists or just another purveyor of the musical past and their hooks, melodies and analog synth sounds do suggest, superficially at least, that they may actually have planned to be just another band in the queue for success. That said, you can’t really blame a band for that as any fan of Panic At the Disco or The Fratellis will duly testify.
However, that would to be something of an injustice as underneath the sounds of the past, King Niko actually have good old fashioned pop rock songs aplenty and Ransom Wydner knows just how to sell them to you. That singing it out loud and proud style that he possesses puts as much of the theatrical into the sing-along dumb but catch “Curly Fry” as you will find in the emotional ballad “Spots On A Lion” and that, without doubt, is an approach that works. Ignoring for the moment the obviously commercial, and almost out of context given the rest of the album, is the song that makes the real challenge for the crown and represents what King Niko is actually capable of. “Boss Fight” is mean, moody and muscular. Make no mistake about that.
There’s a lot here to like and enough left over to suggest a path forward for King Niko. A good result, I would say, even if the world once again fails to notice something good.
The album is available for download from Bandcamp.