I immediately gravitated towards Kimono Drag Queen’s debut album for two main reasons. One because of the name of the band. Any group that makes me think of the niche moment of “Kimono-gate” in season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race has my approval instantly. Secondly, I knew it was time for me to review an album that offered something new, something meditative and wonderfully psychedelic.
Opening with the title track, there’s immediately such a distinct bluesy element to Kimono Drag Queens. This is blended with tribal drum beats and hauntingly melodic vocals that drift alongside the guitars like an ocean wave. Throughout this track and the album as a whole, the vocals and harmonies seem so far away like a soothing dream. It’s nothing short of pure serenity. There’s a stunning shift in tone around the three-minute mark where the guitars offer a southern rock flair, a moment that fuels my Lynyrd Skynyrd loving soul whilst showcasing the band’s diversity.
Hunters in the Snow, my favourite song title off the album, is more up tempo with a hypnotic bassline driving the psychedelia indulgence forward. The guitar melodies and solos are simply beautiful and wrapped in mystical charm. A phrase I wrote down in my notes whilst listening to the track was “tripping time travelling wizards submerged in 1970s culture.” I feel this sums up Kimono Drag Queens quite well.
Delilah offers pure 1960s nostalgia with the vocal melodies and light care-free guitar riffs. Psychedelic lead guitars cut through, wavering and tripping through different plains. Very reminiscent of the German band Kadavar. I adore the 3-minute mark onwards, it’s so damn tribal and bohemian with the guitars submerged in fuzzy tones and the drums providing that infectious tribal back drop. It’s so easy to just close your eyes and become lost, taken to another mind frame of positivity and reflection.
I continue to avoid making notes by just closing my eyes whilst listening to the following track Wild Animals. I feel it’s truly the best way to indulge yourself and be truly fulfilled by Songs of Worship. Wild Animals is one of my favourite songs off the album. I love the way the music shifts and changes, the different tones and layers, varying speeds, all forming together to create a gorgeous listening experience. As a seven-piece, Kimono Drag Queens truly use their individual musical talents to the fullest extent, allowing the listener to hyper focus on one enchanting aspect or to listen to everything as a complete whole.
As the album begins to draw to a close, Evil Desires offers more catchy melodies, the coasting vocals distant yet so close. At 6 and a half minutes, Willy’s World is the longest track on the album and truly brings the journey to a triumphant end. The repeated line of “I belong to the sun” coupled with wahing guitars and a driving bass line creates a track of beautiful hypnotism, so intrinsically retro yet offering a modern perspective.
As I’m writing this, the whole of the UK is drifting into a second lockdown. Songs of Worship is an essential album for times like these or for any time where we need to reclaim our own space and focus on the present. Each track offers something distinct and different yet they’re all interconnected through the meditative potential they offer.
This is such a promising debut album from Kimono Drag Queens and I’m looking forward to what they produce in the future.
Highlights: Hunters in the Snow and Wild Animals
Kimono Drag Queens are a part of Copper Feast Records