KING PARK has been turning out mercurial, high-contrast indie rock since they released their 2017 breakout track, “Stay.” Gritty and lush, the quartet’s sound mirrors the antitheses of their hometown, Hamilton, Ontario: on the one hand, blue-collar and raw, and, on the other, artful and lovely. Following the release of their debut EP, the band is gearing up to release their debut full-length, Everett, later this year. They’re starting with new single, “Stuck In The Middle” – a more subdued version of the band’s usual alt-rock with chiming guitars and broken-up baritone vocals. Today, we’re giving you its stream, along with a full track by track commentary for each and every song from the album below!
At the heart of the group you’ll find childhood friends and musical co-conspirators Timon Moolman (vocals, guitar) and Tyler Heemskerk (bass, vocals), rounded out more recently by guitarist Brenden Campbell and the animated Nate Wall on drums.
Sneak peeks of their upcoming 2020 full-length, Everett, show the quartet exploiting its strengths. Guitars chime, drums thwack, and Moolman’s broken-up baritone—which often veers into shouted speak-sing—is ornamented one minute by barber shop harmonies, and the next by barstool gang vocals. Songs like “This is the End,” “Stuck in the Middle,” and the title track set up camp in that familiar moment after life has fallen apart, and before a way forward seems possible. King Park’s Everett promises a collection of elegies for ordinary, apocalyptic losses.
Track by track commentary
1. Listen Up Now
Much of this album describes a relationship I was in and the way that it was a wakeup call to figuring out what kind of person I want to be, a forced coming of age and a complete end of innocence.
While it may seem like a calling for the music listener to begin paying attention to the album, “Listen Up Now” is actually a call to listen to yourself and decide what it is you want. At first, we were sure “Listen Up Now” was the seed of a new EP. Next thing we knew, we’d written most of a full-length album.
2. Stuck in the Middle
Another one of the albums strong themes is introduced in this song. Being stuck in a moment, a feeling, a person, unable to move past something despite knowing that you should. You can hear in the lyrics that there was very little hope for a better future. I ran into her at the store for the first time since it ended and realized that nothing had changed for me. Despite the months in-between I was nowhere near moving on. The whole album sits in that familiar moment after life has fallen apart, and before a way forward seems possible. “Stuck in the Middle” is a snapshot from one of those times where I felt pinned to the spot. Also, I will probably continue to talk about this situation in the past-tense, but it’s very much still present.
“Clouds” is about God. The prevailing metaphor is found in one of the repeated hooks – “I can pretend like I’ve seen Your face, but the clouds are in the way, are they still filled to the brim with your grace?” This song ties into the theme of growing up and realizing that at a certain point you have to decide for yourself where you stand on these things you took for granted in the past. Lines aren’t black and white anymore, there is a massive grey area you need to deal with now. Following the God that you grew up believing means coming to terms with overwhelming doubt and uncertainty and deciding for yourself what that relationship is going to look like.
4. This is the End
“This is the End” is probably the most straightforward song on the album. I wrote it when we broke up. It marks the aggressive and forced end of our relationship and the start of unpacking who I was now that it was over.
5. Coffee Cheques
Pairing well with “This is the End,” and written during the same hazy backyard writing session – “Coffee Cheques” reminisces on the mess of the relationship and the repercussions of losing my way throughout it. It discusses what it means to have your world flipped upside down and feel “my love for you turn bitter to hate, losing all the better parts of me really brings a man down.” Also, we get to say the self-made-up term “Coffee Cheques” a lot (referring to cheques from coffee dates) so that’s fun.
“Everett” is the title track of the album, and rightfully so. This song gets at the heart of the issue. “Everett” addresses growing up, reminiscing about the past, longing for the future and most importantly the difficulty with being content with where we are and who we are. “Can you stand how everybody’s talking about all the places they used to be? Everybody’s talking about all the places they want to be? And I’m still here, I can’t seem to take what’s in front of me?”
I wrote “Everett” while listening to the instrumental song “The Crown” by the band Everett. While I was driving the work truck one summer of landscaping, I just worked away at it every time I was driving until I had something. When I brought it to the band and everyone liked it, I reached out to Dallas Taylor about using “The Crown” in this way and he said he would be honored. That was really cool because I am a big Dallas Taylor fan.
7. Squeaky Wheels
“Squeaky Wheels” ties with the theme introduced in “Stuck in the Middle”. If you have ever felt like you are your own greatest obstacle in moving forward, then you know what this song is about. With some of the most straightforward lyrics describing why I am unable to move forward, “Squeaky Wheels” ends with the line “I’d like to breathe again, I’m having some trouble getting over (you).”
This is one of the songs that came together with just a jam session. I had the initial idea for the verses, and everything fell into place instrumentally. I think some of the easiest and most honest songs just fall together like this. The band all holds this song dear to our hearts and can’t wait for you guys to hear it!
8. The Hard Way
Another mostly ‘spoken word’ jam paying tribute to La Dispute from which we draw our band name, “The Hard Way”, in contrast with Squeaky Wheels, was the most difficult song to put together as a band. We knew it was going to be one of our favourites, but we all had drastically different ideas for direction. We ended with a compromise in which we all got most of our way and hope you can agree that it features the best of all worlds. Thematically, the song ties the whole album together, with the alternate title, drawn from the lyrics being “Where You Are and Where You Want to Be.”
Our longest and most epic song on the album, “Gates” features two chords entirely. With lyrics written by the girl that sparked so much of the writing on this album, this song offers a shift in perspective and a chance to look at it from her side. The song’s two verses feature the same lyrics because that’s all the lyrics I had to work with! I thought about writing one of my own verses to change it up but am glad I didn’t, it’s her words, not mine. “Gates” is our favourite to play live because of the relentless energy of the ending.
10. Pale White Light
“Pale White Light” is the last song for a reason. I wrote it about my best friend Alex and how he was a big part of the first step in getting over all this. Not so much in the sense that he had the answers to the questions associated with growing up, right and wrong etc. but in the sense that he made it feel like it’s all going to be okay. In a very rough spot in both of our lives, he decided to up and move to Hamilton to live in an apartment with me while we attempted to get our shit together. The apartment had two large bay windows and we had these white curtains that hung in front of them. One of the first Friday nights we had together there we stayed up until the sun started creeping through these windows, forming a pale white light. The song ends with the lyrics that summarize the album in a way that we felt had to end the project “some people learn to love and let go, some people grow up but we’re just getting older, we’re spending all our days just stuck in the middle, trying to find a way to shut that door.”
Thanks, so much to those of you who read this far. The band is really proud of this album and we are trying to get it out to you as soon as possible. The art of writing an album has been somewhat dying for a bit now, but it’s really important to us. We worked hard on the themes and lyrics and love the way that the whole thing ties together, and really hope you do too!