Album Review: Kings Kaleidoscope – Live in Color

by Sam Robinson

Kings Kaleidoscope are a band that clearly delight in music of all styles. Their forthcoming release, a six-track live EP entitled Live in Color, is packed with sunny, upbeat tracks influenced by an array of genres; and it’s clear upon listening (and from watching the drip-fed live videos) that to the members of Kings Kaleidoscope making music is an incredible joy. Their greatest joy, however, is found in Jesus and making him known. The band set up shop in a Seattle school to record this EP, and used a bunch of school instruments on the recordings. It’s a sweet idea that they pull off with ease.

The band have spent a number of years serving in the Ballard arm of Mars Hill Church, but in January of this year announced their split from the church and its music label, branching out and signing with Bad Christian with the aim to produce music ‘not limited to a Sunday morning congregation’. As a fan of the band from back in their Mars Hill Music days, I couldn’t really sense a huge difference in sound on this new live EP, other than the band aren’t afraid to jam. And jam they do.

Opening track Felix Culpa – a Latin phrase which translates to ‘fortunate fall’ – sets the scene for this bright EP with sweet guitar licks, hip-hop beats and at times moves into serious jazzy territory. Lead singer Chad Gardner growls ‘Grace upon grace upon grace upon grace!’. Despite our sin and rebellion – ‘with his blood my hands are stained’ – God has given us grace upon grace in Jesus and that’s something worth bringing the funk to. Felix Culpa a hit, and hopefully one we hear a studio recording of soon!

Seek Your Kingdom contains heavier sounds with driving guitars but knows when to drop back to bring some pretty. Don’t be surprised to find a massive grin on your face as you hear how great a provider our God is. This track is an incredibly joyous reflection on Luke 12: ‘But if God by his grace / clothes the grass with great array / then how much more / is there in store / when I seek your kingdom…’ This song in particular shows off the skill of the band – it’s a very tight live performance.

More praise is shouted on Defender, a track co-written with Zach Bolen from Citizens and dripping in intricate rhythms (dual drums, man!) and Sufjan Stevens-esque woodwind. ‘Who is a rock but our God? / Whose blood has sealed our freedom? / Jesus, our Saviour! / Defender! / Redeemer!’

Softer moments come on Fix My Eyes and Be Thou My Vision. The latter is faithful to the original melody of the famous hymn but builds and builds, using the instrumentals between the verses to bring some intensity (and glockenspiel!). It’s a fantastic arrangement, although I was left hanging at the end expecting it to continue to soar!

Dreamy Higher Throne closes the record, and is a stunning finish. It paints a picture of Jesus in all his glory on the throne, with many bowing down to him in worship and saying he is worthy of all glory, wisdom, and power forevermore. It’s a great note to end on, and reminds us of where we’re headed as his followers.

Listening to this EP is like receiving a punch in the face, but one that you’re super thankful for. It’ll hit you hard with amazing musical arrangements, but sink deep with truth straight from Scripture. I’m giving Live in Color four-and-a-half out of five stars.

Read my interview with Chad from Kings Kaleidoscope about Live in Color.

Live in Color by Kings Kaleidoscope will be released this Tuesday 18th March and will be available as a free download at kingsklive.com for one week. For more album reviews, follow Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

NB: The track ordering of his record has changed since this review was written.

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