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Living, The: Human/Kind

The Jungle Is Dark But Full Of Diamonds from The Living was one of the unexpected highlights of 2013, hence the band's return with the short album, Human/Kind, is a most welcome one. If you're looking to pigeon hole this lot (but let's not), then they probably fall in the category marked quirky prog, the band's three piece rock trio matched by a three piece string section where both aspects prove as important as the other. Crucially you never doubt that the four original tracks on show here were started from that viewpoint, the mistake that many string infused rock songs make namely tacking the strings on at the end deftly avoided.

Hitting like some sort of Opeth covering Zep's "Kashmir" via a funkily accessible offshoot, "Human'Kind" is an enigmatic, memorable opening play. Follow up "One Day Fiance" maximises the funk as an almost Mr Bungle shout and pout; guitars chukka-chukka-chukking as the bass is slapped mightily and the strings swoop and prod in equal measure. Strangely, while you know that the masses are very unlikely to catch on to anything this confident and daring, there's no denying that at its heart, what The Living do could almost be best described as wide ranging pop-music.

However with the beautiful, fragility of "My Heroine" adding a showy, more theatrical side, if there's a danger, it's possibly that The Living could maybe be just too glittery and glitzy for 'serious' rock fans to admit to liking. Something that rears its head strongest on the brave, but maybe too much so, cover of "Don't Stop Me Now", originally by Queen. With the vocals of Mike Bell - which are excellent throughout quite clean and precise, and the snare drum popping away gleefully, it's only really the clever violin outbursts that pull things back from the brink of 'show-tune', and even then only just.

However with a cover of The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather" far better than the original and a surprise run through of Boney M's "Rasputin" proving a Russian tinged delight (if you have a file marked 'guilty pleasures', prepare to make room, this falls gleefully into that category) as clever as it is memorable, The Living are almost as adept at adapting others' music to their style as they are creating it from scratch. "Civilizacion y Barbarie", which acts as a similarly themed preface for Rasputin to shake his stuff, proves again they can do the latter with ease.

Human/Kind fits quite neatly into The Living ethos of dare to be different. In honesty it maybe isn't quite as stand out from the crowd as some of their previous releases. However, it's still a step outside the norm and in this day and age that in itself has to be hugely admired and enjoyed.

Track Listing
1. Human/Kind
2. One Day Fiance
3. My Heroine
4. Civilizacion y Barbarie
5. Rasputin
6. Sweater Weather (bonus track)
7. Don't Stop Me Now

Added: January 22nd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Living on Facebook
Hits: 1010
Language: english

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