As I watched The Kingdom sound check, it struck me: This is going to be huge. As the band performed what, to them, was probably just a half-hearted run-through of (can I call an unreleased song a hit?) "Die All Over Me," I felt nothing other than unmitigated joy. It was obvious, direct, and overflowing with the same manic, off-kilter euphoria mixed with melancholy that made me listen to Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945" (a fuzzed out love song for Anne Frank) approximately 1,945 times in a row. It was an anthem--a call to unfolded-arms reminiscent of when Hutch and Kathy stopped twiddling their twee pop thumbs and dropped their thermal nuclear device, "No Culture Icons," on an unsuspecting rain-soaked population. It was bold, unselfconscious and, like the rest of the Kingdom's set that night, infectious.
Later, I learned that lead singer Chuck Westmoreland had spent time making adult movies. His films, however, were too romantic, tasteful, and genuinely sensual for the audience he was trying to reach. Though indierock has its own unimaginative storylines and preconceived notions of beauty, it's obvious that Westmoreland has learned a lesson from his foray into porn.
The Kingdom, though by no means compromising the many facets of their sound, skillfully navigates between more traditional guitar-centric pop and quirky, electro experimentations. Their broad creative brushstrokes are anything but disorienting, given their genre-defying sound is always unified by Westmoreland's singular, skyscraping vocal style. The memorable melodies, sugarcoat the strident vocals, creating pop songs that artfully meld explicit sonic gratification with oblique lyrical content. Delivered live with a contagious, youthful abandon, The Kingdom stand poised to spread their reign far beyond Portland's cozy confines.