The slow strut of a gentle drumbeat opens Gravity and Friction’s first track, “Saint Peter,” and while the tempo of this opening cut from King Ropes’ second studio album is rather sluggish, the harmonies that it measuredly propels into the air around us instantly sweep us off our feet. We’re lazily basking in the texture and tone of the string arrangement guiding the song’s main melody, but what we do not yet realize is that King Ropes are simply preparing us for the crushing blows which await us in the firm “Butterfly Joint.” This song is sublimely muscular, and as we’ll soon find out, it offers us only a sample of what the next six songs have in store for us in this amazingly engaging LP.
“California Stars” keeps the cocky energy of “Butterfly Joint” going strong by introducing a punkish angst to the guttural stomp of the drums in the background. The guitars get a little meaner in this track whilst the bassline gets a bit leaner, and the two balance the music out just enough to make the song a worthy single, if King Ropes were to be interested in releasing it as such. “Brown” slows things down to the molasses-like pace of “Saint Peter,” and in the seven and a half minute journey that it takes us on, it shows us more of this band’s in-studio capabilities than anything they have recorded previously has. This is a crown jewel of a composition, and definitely among my favorite King Ropes songs to date.
Thrills and chills just keep on coming as the group finds its way into the psychedelic-tinged “Mouth Full of Bees,” an elegant ballad that spotlights the softer side of Gravity and Friction before turning us loose once more in the menacing melodies of the album’s title track. The framework of this song is reminiscent of the Modern Lovers classic “Pablo Picasso,” but the harmonies that the track contains are much sharper by contrast. It’s an interesting segue into the progressive “Giacomo’s Assistant,” and certainly one of the record’s most communicative songs from a lyrical point of view. King Ropes don’t draw from the same well that their American indie rock contemporaries tend to in this LP; I think that they wanted to get as far away from the status quo as possible here.
Gravity and Friction comes to a conclusion with the retrospective noise ballad that is “These Days,” and though the track is quite long at just under seven minutes in total length, it’s a difficult song to put down once you’ve picked it up for the first time. Overall, I think that King Ropes show a lot of stylistic improvement from what they last submitted in the Green Wolverine EP here, and if they remain on this present artistic trajectory, I don’t see why they wouldn’t start making some waves with mainstream listeners as 2020 comes into view. Gravity and Friction is a homerun for this band, and an LP that I would recommend to anyone unaware of their work as an unbeatable jumping-off point.