When Kingwood dropped Microscopic Wars in 2014, traditional Aussie rock devotees rejoiced. But what a change three years can make. And to be fair, change may not be the right word when comparing Kingswood’s debut album to their latest efforts. After Hours, Close to Dawn is much closer to a complete revolution, one that sees the boys travelling an entirely new path, finding inspiration from ‘60s rock and blues over the loud pub-rock pastiche that made them Aussie favourites.
The Melbourne three-piece have not only undergone significant sound developments in the few years since their debut, they’ve also endured a major transformation within the group itself. Early last year, founding member, Jeremy Hunter, unexpectedly split from the band, leaving many fans in doubt over its future. And although the removal of Hunter from the line-up has had an indelible affect on Kingwood’s dynamic, nobody appears to be complaining.
Immediately as the jingle begins on the piano-ballad opener ‘Looking For Love’, it’s obvious that After Hours is going to be a different record. While the album’s first single, ‘Creepin’, teased listeners with a sound Kingswood are known for: heavy, fuzzy guitars and violent drum beats, there’s not another taste of these former flavours until ‘Like Your Mother’ or in fleeting moments on ‘Rebel Babe’. Regardless, each compare little to the heaviness of Microscopic Wars, and without the light dusting of these heavier cuts the two albums would be almost unparalleled. But it’s throughout the middle of the record that Kingwood’s alterations are most prominent, and the funky organ and keyboard infusions found on tracks ‘Belle’ and ‘Big City’ harbour promising 60s influences from the likes of former giants, The Beatles and the Doors.
Although After Hours, Close to Dawn is nothing anybody expected from Kingswood, it is an extremely pleasant surprise. There’s no doubt that all great bands undergo many changes throughout their careers. Look no further than The Beatles, who continued evolving their sound for well over a decade, or more recently with Tame Impala’s damning development from Lonerism to Currents. After Hours, Close to Dawn may well be the making of a great band in Kingswood.