Kula Shaker – Natural Magick (Album Review)

by info.vocallyrics@gmail.com

Viva la Brits! It looks like some of the pioneers of Britpop have been emerging recently with new albums in tow – Suede with 2022’s Autofiction, Blur with 2023’s The Ballad of Darren, and Kula Shaker.  The busiest of those mentioned, Kula Shaker have two in a row, 2022’s 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs, and now in 2024, the forthcoming Natural Magick.

Looking back briefly, Kula Shaker came together in London England nearly three decades ago.  Consisting of Crispian Mills (lead vocals, guitars, tamboura, harmonica), Alonza Bevan (bass, additional guitars, piano, vocals), Paul Winterhart (drums, percussion), and Jay Darlington (keyboards, organ, piano. mellotron), the band catapulted to commercial popularity on the strength of their debut album, 1996’s K; whose singles “Tattva” and “Govinda” shot to the charts. Ensuring Kula Shaker’s legacy of Hinduism-inspired Psychedelic music, their style in league with similar excursions by the likes of The Beatles, Khumb Mela Band, Echo & the Bunnymen, Cornershop, and Elephant Stone.

After the multi-platinum and chart-topping K, Kula Shaker pursued an on-and-off activity, but not without unleashing five albums more over the span of two decades. Now, obviously invigorated, Kula Shaker is set to release its quick follow up to 2022’s offering.

Slated to come out on March 1, 2024, via BFD/The Orchard, Natural Magick is Kula Shaker’s lucky seventh. All together a three track album that carries the band’s technicolor psychedelic trippings, incorporating “blazing sermons, raga rave-ups, stardust-coated pop pearls, and mood-enhancing mantras.” 

It all starts with the energetic, angular, and groove-oriented rockin’ stomper “Gaslighting,” which is then followed by the sunny and infectious, wah-glazed chiming “Waves.” The funky and melodic mellotron-flavored title-track follows next. Thereafter, you have the horn-adorned “Indian Record Player,” before being treated to something that harks to ’60s Psychedelic/Sunshine Pop. This is while the ensuing “Chura Liya (You Stole My Heart)” is a different mythical beast; a melodramatic Raga ballad complete with tabla, tamboura, and other Hindustani instruments. 

Another playful and tuneful track bounces next in the form of “Something Dangerous.” Following you have a proper love song, slow and bluesy, “Stay with Me Tonight” also once more showcases Kula Shaker’s male-female vocal interplay. Then, after the subtle “Happy Birthday,” “I Don’t Wanna Pay My Taxes” crunches Kula Shaker’s Blues Rock sensibilities once more. 

Rounding it all out, three delicacies more – the Hip Hop brushed “F-Bombs,” the countryside “Whistle and I Will Come,” and the ’90s Britpop throwback “Kalifornia Blues” – finally wraps up Natural Magick with the hopeful, starry, left-and-right glow of “Give Me Tomorrow.”

In the ever-broadening scope of today’s musical landscape, the resurgence to the spotlight of some now classic genres, like Britpop, is definitely a great chance for both old-timers and young enthusiasts to get acquainted with modern takes on the genre. Taking everyone on a fantastic journey to the past and the future, Kula Shaker’s Natural Magick is fittingly a magic carpet ride. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Kula Shaker Natural Magick
Kula Shaker – Natural Magick / BFD/The Orchard (2024) 

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