It’s been four years since Kyle Thomas has released music as King Tuff and believe me, that gap has been felt. It’s great to have him back, though its unclear if “The Other” is a one off endeavor or the tip of a new album’s iceberg. From the heavily suggested note to follow up King Tuff socials, I’d wager the latter, but new music is welcome news either way. His last outing, Black Moon Spell, polished up his sound into 20 foot whirlwind of power pop and garage that still retained his gonzo sensibility. It was cleaner, but still undeniably Tuff. So, it’s with a bit of surprise that the latest track from Thomas strips all of the bombast away. He’s gone down alleyways of tenderness before (“Staircase of Diamonds”, “Evergreen”) but those songs have always retained the Mad Hatter twinkle that rested in Thomas’ eye.
On “The Other” he’s gone to the well of earnestness without a wobble of weird in sight. It’s a good look on him, and far be it from me to begrudge an artist a sea change when their old influences feel out of sorts. Thomas’s voice is hovering far above the mix, with just some plucks and a sunset swell of organ pushing him through. It feels like Tuff if he’d been binging the works of James Jackson Toth lately. Whether this song captures the tone of new works or if its just a muse that he needed for follow remains to be seen. While its a surprising tonal shift, this heart-on-sleeve approach fits Kyle well. I wouldn’t be opposed to some more tender Tuff if it came my way.
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