Names can be deceiving, especially when the handle in question belongs to Frontier Ruckus, a band based out of Detroit whose idea of making music has as little to do with creating a ruckus as snow does to falling in the Sahara. Still, after five albums, they obviously know what they’re doing, and even if Enter the Kingdom suggests some sort of grand cosmic statement, it’s really a return to what they do best — that is, to making mellow, melodic music that soothes the soul and stirs the senses.
Fortunately, that doesn’t involve putting on any pretense, and the title of the album aside, these are mostly introspective musings that demand little more than a lingering gaze and a will to relate. These are Everyman themes — the search for a connection in a shattered world, the need to survive even in harrowing circumstance, and wrecked relationships that one hoped and assumed would last forever. Singer Matthew Milia is a terrific storyteller, but there’s no need to stretch; intimate, haunting and cathartic, these tunes find a common bond with anyone who’s ever stumbled along the way, but still stays hopeful about finding peace even when the odds turn against it.
Here then, the melodies say it all, especially on songs like “Visit Me,” “Enter the Kingdom” and “Sarah Springtime,” the latter two tracks graced by strings that affirm the album’s nocturnal embrace. At the same time, there’s a universal tone present throughout, one that keeps the volume just above a whisper and finds a feeling of vulnerability tinged with fragility and finesse. Credit producer Ken Coomer for ensuring that interest remains intact without sinking into a maudlin mash-up of self-inflicted doubt. These songs are soothing and serene, much needed calm in a chaotic world. In that way then, Enter the Kingdom is a heavenly respite.