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Dressed up in cultish imagery, complex lyricism and a mutating, tradition-be-damned approach to rock music’s typical sonic palette, King Nun’s long-awaited debut album ’Mass’ is a coming-of-age record like few others. 

King Nun

Dressed up in cultish imagery, complex lyricism and a mutating, tradition-be-damned approach to rock music’s typical sonic palette, King Nun’s long-awaited debut album ’Mass’ is a coming-of-age record like few others. 

Where early singles like ‘Tulip’ and ‘Hung Around’ first presented the London four-piece as youthful punk rockers, ‘Mass’ dives deeper into the psyche and ceremony that surrounds the progression from youth to adulthood. “‘Mass is really autobiographical,” explains frontman and lyricist Theo Polyzoides of the band’s own coming-of-age. “We were just writing about what was in front of us. We were at a time - in both our lives and our career - where we had to step up.” 

Tracks like ‘Black Tree’ (which unpicks the inescapable tangle of depression) and ‘Cowboy’ (a comment on the demands toxic masculinity places on young men) showcase that more considered, grown-up mindset. ‘Sharing A Head With Seth’, meanwhile, attempts to distance the King Nun of today from the more angsty and masochistic punks they first presented themselves as, Theo personifying their former selves as the selfdestructive, titular Seth. It’s an almost mythical approach to everyday anxieties, which King Nun prove to be masters of across all eleven tracks on their debut album. “Lyrically, I always find myself approaching these things that are in front of me in a way that’s riddled with metaphor,” admits Theo. “I love surrealism,” he adds, “it’s definitely one of my biggest influences.” 

That otherworldliness manifests itself in numerous ways as ‘Mass’ pours forth. From the album title itself - a multi-faceted reference to coming-of-age as an almost cultish ceremony - to the warped melodies that drive ‘Low Flying Dandelion’, and heavenlysounding closer (and ode to long-forgotten German folk singer Sibylle Baier) ‘A Giant Came Down’, ‘Mass’ refuses to remain in one sonic space. The result is a record which eschews conventional rock structures and sounds, in favour of something more ambitious and boundary-pushing, while never losing sight of King Nun’s brilliance as a live guitar band. 

 “I think popular music nowadays has the traits that rock music is traditionally known for,” says Theo. “It’s really outlandish; it handles in politics more often than not; it often sounds quite violent and in-your-face. We wanted to make a rock song - that is undeniably a rock song - without any of the clichés. We want a rock song that you can play on an acoustic, and it’ll still leave you shaking in your boots. 

“You do that with words, and performance, and melodies,” he adds of the way King Nun approached ‘Mass’. “Rock music’s just gonna become pop music if people keep insisting on those cliches. And I like playing with those genre boundaries.” It's a fitting sentiment, given the way ‘Mass’ leaves King Nun’s canvas clear - there’s no telling where they could take their sound next. 

A record centred around both personal exorcisms and more universal lived experiences, King Nun’s debut is a lofty accomplishment from a group no longer content to simply kick up the dirt at their feet. “The album is really autobiographical,” admits Theo, “it’s full of songs about becoming, songs about reminiscing, songs about making an album. It’s a tribute to teenage angst, to naivety, to memories both melancholic and despairingly sad - to that need to step up to the plate.” 

 ‘Mass’ is, without doubt, a record which finds King Nun stepping up to the plate. A confident, charismatic and complex debut LP, it proves the quartet are embracing their self-appointed role as rock music’s last great innovators. 

Genres

Rock