Third Culture Kings release kaleidoscopic sophomore album
Vocalist Jan Johansen of Glorybox, a Danish singer with an indie rock background, and producer Alap Momin of the American hip-hop group dälek have collaborated once again to release Different Kinda Angel, their most recent work as the international duo Third Culture Kings. Different Kinda Angel, released on Internet & Weed in mid-June and now available for streaming on Spotify and Soundcloud, marks the group’s second collaboration following their debut album Is That the Light You Carry?. The band is characterized by their experimentation of multiple genres, fusing together multiple musical influences from 80s synth to R&B to form their own distinct style which they have self-titled “womb music.”
Different Kinda Angel, an album consisting of 11 tracks, is extremely eclectic in its theme—each song differs greatly from the next in its instrumentation and style. One standout is “Clocks Are Slow On Sundays,” the second track on the album. The song, a testament to the genre-blending nature of Third Culture Kings, opens with a slow bass line. It quickly transitions to a more plucky acoustic sound, over which Johansen sings the chorus in a calming two-part harmony. Light drums and synth glissandos are later introduced, adding to the rich texture of the song.
“Say What You Will,” the sixth track on the album, is another highlight. Beautifully melancholy and sharing many structural similarities to American R&B singer H.E.R.’s song “Focus,” “Say What You Will” is a haunting tapestry of harp arpeggios and subtle bass through which Johansen’s voice weaves. The ethereal instrumentation is complemented by the forlorn lyricism, creating an aura of wistfulness and perhaps even heartbreak.
“Holy Kiss,” the fifth track on the album, is a classic example of the experimental nature of the music of the Third Culture Kings. The opening lyrics, “Libera Me Domine” are from the Roman Catholic responsory Líbera Me (meaning “deliver me”), which is traditionally sung at the absolution of the dead and before burial. It has been featured in the works of many great 20th century contemporary composers such as Gabriel Fauré and Igor Stravinsky. The classical, bleak lyrics heavily contrast the modern synth bursts and pulsing beats that make appearances throughout the song, taking the listener on a journey through a psychedelic dream.
Further evidence of the musical range and genre diversity of Third Culture Kings is the fourth song on the album, “Keep it Alive.” It heavily contrasts the previously discussed songs in its relatively upbeat tempo and heavy pop influence. “Keep it Alive” opens with a few bars of buoyant guitar strumming, which then lead into exciting synth bursts. The entire song is, in fact, very synth-heavy, and rather reminiscent of house music. Even the lyricism is bright and hopeful, as Johansen sings “Keep it alive, keep it alive” throughout the chorus.
Ultimately, Different Kinda Angel is an exciting collection of songs and musical influences, if not a little all over the place. For those who enjoy fusion music and experimentation in multiple genres, Third Culture Kings’ second album is a good listen and is a testament to their growth as a duo.