Release Date: Mar 4, 2014
Record label: Fat Wreck Chords
Review by John Gentile and Ricky FrankelThe reason why Ezra Kire succeeds in his projects is because he's not afraid to go big. For some reason, modern punk has developed the implied directive that "you're not special." A band can't act too excited when they get in stage. Rocking out (instead of kind if just standing around) is considered cheesy. Even when a band releases an album, the usual demeanor is something along the lines of "we think it's pretty goodâ?¦" By contrast, Kire, who is probably about a decade older than most of the bands that he shares the bill with, is sort of the last generation of the old school: An album is an important statement that defines the artist.
He'd probably stifle a gag at the comparison, but Morning Glory band leader Ezra Kire has created the most ambitious punk rock album since American Idiot. And unlike Billy Joe's "rock opera" manifesto, War Psalms is a stripped-down "revolution rock" record that repeatedly shakes listeners out of their three-chorded doldrums. Featuring 13 songs that range from blazing speed-burners like "Natas Behind Me" to piano-driven extenda-ballads like "Know Your Wrongs," on which Kire proudly displays his ivory-tinkling prowess, War Psalms always sticks in your craw, melodies worming their way into your head and staying there until you spin the album again.
Continuing to move away from their ska-punk beginnings, Ezra Kine and company return with War Psalms, the most mature and eclectic album to date from his solo project turned full-time band Morning Glory. Moving quickly from track to track, the album is a sonic whirlwind, sometimes feeling like a series of rapid-fire vignettes that move from subject to subject and from mood to mood before the listener ever has a chance to get bored. Although this gives the album an engaging, high-intensity feeling, where War Psalms really succeeds is its longer songs.
Morning Glory presents another set of refreshingly experimental pop-punk on War Psalms. The band, fronted by Ezra Kire, delivers lean hooks and power chords—see catchy gem “Standard Issue”—but they also trade in various sounds and textures. “I Am Machine Gun” erupts in metal darkness and huge, military horns. “War Dance” filters a street-punk leanness through heavy prog spaces.
Morning Glory’s third full-length is like a fist in the air; a rallying cry for the kind of “revolution rock” that New York punk scene vet Ezra Kire talks about in the album’s second song, “Standard Issue. ” As ambitious as the band’s brand of spruced-up punk has been over the years, War Psalms is actually more of a straight-ahead album from the Manhattan band, Kire leaving the faux-hawk grandiosity of 2012’s Poets Were My Heroes behind. Not to say that this is three-chord punk rock—far from it—but War Psalms benefits from a shorter running time (37 minutes) and a cohesive sound throughout.