Currently cutting a swathe through the USA, Kongos release their debut album Lunatic in the UK on September 11 via Epic Records. Already a huge – and critically acclaimed – hit in North America and South Africa, Lunatic is a dramatic, exciting and vital collection of songs that showcases these four brothers’ gift for beautiful songwriting, soulful grit and sheer rock power.
With Greek blood in their veins, a childhood spent in Britain and South Africa and their family home now located in Phoenix, Arizona, Dylan, Danny, Jesse and Johnny Kongos are the sons of legendary British singer-songwriter John Kongos, most famous for his 1971 Top 10 single, He’s Gonna Step On You Again, which Happy Mondays covered for their 1990 hit Step On.
The multi-instrumentalist brothers bring an eclectic melting pot of influences to their musical stew. Raw guitar rock, tribal rhythms, Balkan beats, electronic flourishes, reggae tinges, folk-driven accordions, Southern blues and alternating levels of twisted darkness and gentle melodies call to mind the varied sounds of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Killers, Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire, QOTSA, Crowded House, Paul Simon, Kings Of Leon and Radiohead.
The likes of I’m Only Joking, an ominous, brooding stomp full of strange chants and hypnotic rhythms, Hey I Don’t Know with its epic, stomping, electrifying chorus and Kids These Days, full of riff-based drama and arch vocals, demonstrate the passionate rock edge that Kongos possess, leading them to be guests on Kings Of Leon’s mammoth Mechanical Bull US tour this summer.
But elsewhere Kongos flex their musical muscles in unexpected ways. As We Are is a gentle, accordion-based love song full of space and beauty, Travelling On features a delicate acoustic guitar and Neil Finn-esque vocals, It’s A Good Life boasts unusual, South African rhythms and This Time I Won’t Forget is reflective and dreamy with a strident, harmonious chorus.
Sex On The Radio, I Want To Know and Take Me Back all possess striking melodies, thought-provoking lyrics and huge, bold choruses guaranteed to stick around your head for days, demonstrating the band’s knack for writing classic pop songs.
However it’s the growling roar of Come With Me Now which has really exploded for the band. Having spent five consecutive weeks at Number One on the Billboard Alternative Chart in America (and beating Lorde’s Royals in the process to become the fastest-ever ascent to Number One by a debut artist in US chart history) it’s now crossed over to the Hot 100 and is fast-becoming a ubiquitous summer anthem from the Pacific to Atlantic coasts.
Soon to be released in the UK as the band’s debut single (following I’m Only Joking which is currently available free via iTunes and picking up UK radio spins on Radio 1, XFM and Bauer stations), Come With Me Now heralds Kongos as a global force to be reckoned with.