Maribou State’s ‘Kingdoms In Colour’: definitely not just noise

I’ll admit that initially I was extremely sceptical of Maribou State. I have a tendency to enjoy music with definable lyrics that can be loudly sung and danced to, music that makes you Feel with a large ‘F’.

My friend dragged me to go see Maribou State last summer, promising that I would actually enjoy their music and that no, it was not ‘just noise’ (my words). I was definitely pleasantly surprised – and even more so when listening to their latest album Kingdoms in Colour, released in late September.

Maribou State describe themselves as “two music making, tea drinking, boys from the Shire” – and this is something that is reflected in their music. There is a certain modest quality about it, giving off a sense of shyness and subtlety at first, but then in the next moment swinging to intense and awe-inspiring. Kingdoms in Colour’s first track ‘Beginner’s Luck’ especially embodies this, switching from hauntingly powerful piano and choir choruses to softer whispering vocals.

Holly Walker is also back on this second album, after making an appearance in the band’s 2015 album Portraits in my favourite tracks ‘Midas’ and ‘Steal’. She steals the show in this album’s ‘Nervous Tics’ and ‘Slow Heat’. Her rendition of ‘Nervous Tics’ gives an impression of controlled chaos and uncertainty, with the lyrics ‘On balance I’d take/ Another emotional crisis/ Over your slow pulse rate’. There a feeling of fragility in Maribou State’s new album, and a sensitivity that was maybe less apparent in Portraits, as heard in ‘Glasshouses’ and its intriguing repetition of the words ‘falling bottles/ don’t forget me/ in this kingdom that I own’.

Kingdoms in Colour underlines how Maribou State manages to accomplish something extremely specific with their music: the sense that it this is music that could be listened to while studying, but also while running through the streets at night, or flying over mountains, or simply dancing in the dark.

Maribou State will be coming to Oxford this Friday the 16th of October, at the O2 Academy, and tickets are still available…

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MusicClara Dijkstra