ABDICATE THE THRONE
ALBUM: ABDICATE THE THRONE
BAND: CAPER CLOWNS
Reviewed by NADJA DEE
Cover Photography: Lone Kingo
CD Art: Tristan One
Cover Photo Set Decorations:
Storm/Højgaard & Kingo
Hvis du foretrækker en dansk version, skal du gå
KEY to this album
(Hint: The closer to center white, the more Power Pop)
A great deal of Power Pop, a couple super-polished indie tracks, some acoustic rock, slower rock and a country banjo tune
[Tip: This review looks best on a desktop computer]
ABDICATE THE THRONE
Musicians: Rick Kingo (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Percussion & Kazoo)
Peter Højgaard (Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars, Percussion & Theremin)
Christian Højgaard (Vocals, Bass & Percussion)
Henrik Krogh (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Electric Sitar & Resonator Guitar)
Rasmus Almlund (Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Keyboards, Percussion & Lap Steel Guitar)
Bertram Christensen (Backing Vocals Track 13)
Jonatan Bargholt Christensen (Voice & Backing Vocals Tracks 1, 13)
Søren Dalsgaard (Voice Track 1)
Mikkel Foged (Vocie Track 1)
Alexander Glerup (Backing Vocal Track 13)
Jacob René Jensen (Voice Track 1)
Lone Kingo (Whistle Track 2)
Jeppe Nielsen (Backing Vocal Track 13)
Produced By: Caper Clowns
Mixed & Mastered: Henrik Krogh
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered at Ferritslev Arrest
Written By: Rick Kingo (Track 1)
Henrik Krogh (Tracks 2, 5, 7, 10, 13)
Peter Højgaard (Track 3)
Christian Højgaard/Henrik Krogh/Rick Kingo (Tracks 4, 6, 9, 11, 14)
Rasmus Almlund/Christian Højgaard/Henrik Krogh/Rick Kingo (Track 8)
Henrik Krogh/Rick Kingo (Track 12)
Caper Clowns aren't clowning around with music!
💙💙 With so many genres, everyone old to young should love Caper Clowns 💙💙
The only thing I knew about Denmark was that they love beer, licorice, and invented LEGOS! That would be enough to grant them my respect, but did you also know that we wouldn't have insulin, Google Maps or more important to a music page...BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS! It's true, not to mention that The Little Mermaid was written by a famous Danish man named Hans Christian Andersen.
But before you send the Vikings after me, Denmark should be proud of one more amazing export: The music of Caper Clowns!
I have know about the music of Caper Clowns (Tip: There's no "The." It's just Caper Clowns) since their 2018 release, A Salty Taste To The Lake. Of course, they've been putting out music since 2015 (Type Your Text Here, Queen's Desire) although those early tracks were heavy on the lightweight jangly guitars, a track like Leaving Notes, showed they were a band worthy of taking note of, even back then.
Their music reminds me of a band like Sloan, which is also composed of multiple lead singers and songwriters making their albums sound both diverse and cohesive. One thing is certain, you'll never get bored from a Caper Clowns album, as their music ranges from Country, Classical, Pop, Rock all the way to Power Pop. There's something to love for every member of your family, from Grandpa to the youngest audiophile.
Combining the best of Danish culture, here's a LEGO version of Hans Christian Andersen
There's only a handful of predominately Power Pop bands, who have released 3 albums or more, where I'd buy everything, and anything they release: Fountains Of Wayne, Pernice Brothers, The Posies, Captain Wilberforce, Sloan and so far, Caper Clowns. They may have only released 3 albums (Not to mention, an EP and 7 singles) but so far, they have an amazing "track record." (See what I did there?)
Whether it's attributed to the Power Pop genre itself, or the fact that most independent bands are free from the pressure of major labels and halitosis-riddled A&R men, Caper Clowns are carving out quite an impressive discography.
But being a multiple singer-songwriter band isn't the only amazing thing that Caper Clowns have going for them. They also keep it a family affair. According to their biography, the band consists of a father and son, two brothers, and an adoptee, which also crossover as multi-instrumentalists, comprising five backing vocalists songwriters, four lead singers, three guitarists, two drummers, and keyboardists, and I bet somewhere in there is a Danish partridge in a pear tree!
One BA Partridge waiting to join Caper Clowns
The album starts with "Pineapple Songs," a word that instantly makes me think of "Pineapple Head" by Crowded House. The songs don't really have anything in common other than they both contain the word Pineapple. (In all fairness, how many songs contain that particular fruit and aren't about Sponges that live in a pineapple under the sea?)
I wonder if Spongebob sings Pineapple songs?
And while "Pineapple Songs" isn't the big hit on this album, it's a great way to start the album. The song revs up slowly, almost letting the listener know that they need to settle in for the trip. And it's worth noting that "Pineapple Songs" contains a THEREMIN! (Although, these guys have been using a theremin since The Buca Bus album, played by Peter Højgaard.
Track #1: Pineapple Songs
Who doesn't love a Theremin?
Track #2 "LOCK ON" is one of the latest singles released from Abdicate The Throne. It's certainly one of the catchiest songs on the album. It's certainly a song that resonated with me, in my life, because it makes me think of the last correspondence I had with my father after he found out I was trans. Both of his letters were written with the "CAPS LOCK ON." I told my therapist that it felt like he was yelling at me. She responded with a very deadpan, "He was."
I'll hit you like a hammer
If you're picking on my grammar
I'm a forgive and a damner
I am a polygon
And no one's gonna stop me
Say I'm barking up the wrong tree
I ruffle feathers proudly, loudly
CAPS LOCK ON
But, despite my personal history with "CAPS LOCK ON" letters, this song rocks. I could've done without the extended last stringing out of of "Caps lock OOONNNNNNNNUH!" but it certainly gets the point across. I said IT GETS THE POINT ACROSS!
Track #2: CAPS LOCK ON
Official video for CAPS LOCK ON
From here, Caper Clowns remind me of another band that is comprised of family members, namely Crowded House. It helped that Crowded House has a song called "Four Seasons In One Day," and Track #3 by Caper Clowns is called "Four Letter Season." But, the comparisons don't stop there, the overall sound of Caper Clowns reminds me of early 90's Crowded House, and that's not a bad thing. Maybe it's the natural harmony you get from blood-related family members?
Track #3: Four Letter Season
Track #4 "Bonsai Tree" is not a Power Pop song, but that's alright, because it's the most beautiful song on the album. It reminds me of Paul McCartney's 2nd** best acoustic song, 2005's Jenny Wren. (**BTW: The answer is "Yesterday" if you're wondering)
"Bonsai Tree" has its own video and that's where I finally have my first complaint. In the video, you see a beautiful girl dig up a bonsai tree in the middle of the desert, but then she replants it a few feet from the ocean! Now I realize that Denmark is framed by The North Sea and The Baltic Sea. The North Sea has a salinity of 35 grams per liter, and the Baltic Sea is a brackish sea (A mix of salt and fresh water), but that tree is not going to survive there. Either the saltwater will kill the poor thing or it's going to get washed out to sea when the tide comes in. Either way, that bonsai tree is going to be a BYEsai tree unless she plants it someplace better.
Poor little Bonsai Tree...RIP
Track #4: Bonsai Tree
Official Video for Bonsai Tree
The next track, "Be There (The Ever Changing Tone)" also reminds me a bit of McCartney, from his later releases, take "Ever Present Past" from 2008's Memory Almost Full. Besides the word "ever," both songs have that heavy, thumping beat that drives the songs.
Track #5: Be There (The Ever Changing Tone)
By the time you hit Track #6 "The Club Of Humanity," you're musical journey with the Caper Clowns has reached full velocity. The song starts off with a hypnotic sounding helicopter blade swirling in your aural chambers, and the rapid-fire delivery of the lyrics reminded me of other non-stop vocals from bands like 1993's U2's "Numb" or 1996's Savage Garden song "I Want You." (The Cherry Cola song). It's a good thing, but when you deliver vocals, in a rapid, no-breathing succession, you're going to regret it later.
I was at a Michael Penn show and he regretted the number of words he put into his song, "Brave New World." It reminded me of how much trouble it was for R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe to sing "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."
Track #6: The Club Of Humanity
Official Video for The Club Of Humanity
The video for "The Club Of Humanity," is brilliant. It looks like a scene from an amazing feature film by Jim Jarmusch. The video's point of view storytelling immediately grabs the viewer as the protagonist makes his way through the seedy club/whorehouse. It great storytelling and makes me long to know the rest of the story. In "Club Of Humanity," Caper Clowns have created an intriguing underbelly of a world with characters from a Fellini movie if they were cast in 1950's East Berlin. I loved seeing the members of Caper Clowns on stage, performing the song while looking like SNL Mike Myer's character Deiter from Sprockets.
SNL'S Sprockets Skit starring Mike Myers
PET MY MONKEY
Track #7 "April Fool" is probably the slickest song on the album, for it sounds like the kind of song that would make the soundtrack to a popular TV show. Had it been around in the '90s, it would've fit perfectly on a show like 90210. It's extremely polished in both production and sound, it's a good song, it's just a bit too mainstream for me.
Track #7: April Fool
Did you know there aren't a lot of songs about April Fool's Day? There was a great 1986 B-movie horror film by the title. But the only other song worth mentioning is Rufus Wainwright's song, "April Fools" off his self-titled album. A great song, in big part due to the outstanding production by Jon Brion.
Rufus Wainwright "April Fools" (Produced by Jon Brion)
April Fools Day 1986
Track #8 "What She Became" is a slow number that shows off the Caper Clowns' great harmonies. It also would've made a great ending track to Abdicate The Throne.
Jumping ahead to Track #9 "In Your Kaleidoscope" is a song whose tasty guitar intro would be worthy of someone like Lenny Kravitz, who writes super Power Poppy songs if you add a HEFTY DOSE of FUNK! Kind of like the man himself, a blend of cultures himself, you can't quite pinpoint the genre of his music. It's like that delicious teriyaki sauce, SOY VAY, a concoction formed when a Jewish boy met a Chinese girl and united the flavors of both cultures. (The best teriyaki sauce on the market, if you ask me!)
"In Your Kaleidoscope" is equal parts Lenny Kravitz, The Beatles, and the faster songs by Klaatu. It's a wild ride and my favorite song on the album. To me, it feels like an amusement park ride in musical form. I especially like the way the song ramps up, like the descending drop on a roller coaster before it launches into the "I'm there in your Kaleidoscope" chorus. The lyrics even sing "Watch me sliding down the slope."
Track #9: In Your Kaleidoscope
Track #9: In Your Kaleidoscope (As a roller coaster ride)
"In Your Kaleidoscope" lyric video put to a roller coaster ride
(Not an official video. A fan video made by Nadja Dee)
By the time I came to Track #10 "Under Your Command," I was worried that it another song about the disaster that was the Trump administration (If you can call that group of felons an "administration?" (Sorry to get political, I'm still feeling the trauma)
But, thankfully, the song doesn't seem to be about the Presidential comedy of errors we called Commander In Chief #45. Phew. Caper Clowns are from Denmark so they probably wouldn't be writing about a dicktator in power all the way over here, even if the whole world was watching.
The album slows down a bit after the roller coaster ride of "In Your Kaleidoscope," and continues de-accelerating all the way to the finish line. The slowdown starts with "Under Your Command," followed by Track #11 "I'd Be Me," and into the last three tracks, "Space & Time, Alec In A Line, and Valley Of The Queens." Maybe it's like the cool down after a heavy workout, or more appropriately, the stepping down from the throne.
Standouts for the "cool down" were:
The Amplifier Heads quality of "Under Your Command"
The slick, super cool guitars on "I'd Be Me"
The dreamy Hall & Oates meets Til Tuesday vibe to "Space & Time"
The understated banjo charm of "Alec In A Line" (Would make a great 2-step song)
The grand ending of "Valley Of The Queens" is a better ending than my suggestion of "What She Became." "Valley Of The Queens," has got a very Tears For Fears by way of Julian Lennon quality to it.
Track #12: Space & Time
Space & Time Official Video
Caper Clowns have done it again.
In fact, I would go so far as to say between 2016's The Buca Bus, and 2018's A Salty Taste To the Lake, if Denmark's Caper Clowns were a sports team, Abdicate The Throne would give the band something that I think (In sports) is called a "HAT TRICK," meaning three successful goals. Just don't hold me to it because I don't follow sports.
In a musical climate where bands are more likely to release a short EP, Abdicate The Throne comes in at a whopping 14 Tracks! But, unlike The Offspring's new release, it's not 3 great songs, and the rest is just filler. Not at all.
As I listened to this album, on repeat, the songs went from attractive strangers to familiar friends and I realized these guys really know how to write a good song. And, after a series of three solid albums, great songwriting, terrific production, and harmonies, I would strongly recommend you pick up everything Caper Clowns put out, as these guys aren't "clowning around" one bit. The phrase "abdicate the throne" means to give up power, to relinquish a high office, a function, or even one's dignity. That being said, based on this latest album, let's hope Caper Clowns don't give up the throne anytime soon.
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DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
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