KONGOS – Egomaniac
KONGOS are a band made up of four South African brothers who are now based in the USA. Their sound is not immediately easy to categorise, with rock, pop, dance, and electro elements all taking up large portions of their third album, Egomaniac. There are even hints of blues and folk hiding somewhere in the mix. Comparisons to other bands don’t come easily and that, for KONGOS, must surely be considered a good thing. Although it does make them a little difficult to market.
If you were looking for a strong selling point for the band, you might want to start by simply playing the first three songs on the album. ‘Take It From Me’ is a solid opener that sets the tone with its rousing chorus. ‘The World Would Run Better’ picks up the mantle, making it easy to imagine the energetic moshpit you might find yourself in at a KONGOS gig in the near future. And ‘I Want It Free’ maintains the energy levels superbly. As an opening run of songs, it’s impressively raucous and raw.
It might be asking a lot to expect this level to be maintained throughout. That said, it is a surprise to see the standard diminish so sharply just a couple of songs later. ‘Autocorrect’ might be an attempt at bringing a bit of a socio-political stance to an album that has so far been most notable for its fun factor. Sadly, it feels more than a little awkward and out of place. Similar concerns surround the next couple of songs. After a solid start, Egomaniac seems in danger of a derailment.
At no point does the album come all the way off the tracks, though. KONGOS’s huge potential can be heard in nearly every song and, like those opening three crackers, there are plenty more songs that show just how enjoyable this band is when they’re at their best. ‘Look at Me’ brings back the brilliance after a few less impactful tracks. They slow it down a little bit for ‘I Don’t Mind’ and we’re treated to the best vocal performance on the album. And with the lovely ‘If You Could’, they close the album almost as well as they opened it.
As a whole, though, Egomaniac doesn’t fully recover from the awkward moments that pop up too often. KONGOS are definitely at their best when fun is at the forefront of their music, and when that is the case they can come close to magical. But at other moments, Egomaniac can feel a little cheesy. It’s definitely worth a listen, though, if just for the moments when it shines.