On St. Paul and the Broken Bones debut, 2014’s Half The City, the eight-piece group joined a list of retro-soul purveyors, yet every release since then has found the band expanding their sound. On their newest release, The Alien Coast, they go their furthest out yet, dabbling in a host of different styles and delivering a well-constructed, if scattered, ‘End of Days’ inspired mixtape.
Judgment is upon the band and during these trying times they start with “Fire and Brimstone” of “3000 AD Mass” a heavy rocking intro, proving the band could easily dabble with metal, before moving into a warbling/modern groove direction via “Bermejo And The Devil”. “Atlas” is a super cool instrumental while “Minotaur” is a great slice of grooving soul containing distorted bass, falsetto singing, and ancient Greek lyrical leanings.
There is a loose sense of a concept album (like the previous two releases from the band as well), but frontman Paul Janeway never truly commits to the doomsday proverbs. The focus for Janeway is more his voice as an added instrument than any sort of lyrical cohesiveness. He sings softly and dramatically about ghosts, both holy and poisonous, “Popcorn Ceilings” (the dullest track here), as well as snow and dunes on Jupiter.
The album hits its zenith with “Hunter And His Hounds” a massive sounding effort with huge drums, eerie haunting sounds around apocalyptic overtures, and gorgeous piano; a monster track all around. Other highlights are the pure disco-funk of “The Last Dance” and the over-the-top, cinematic title track.
When the band does dig into R&B it does so in the modern era rather than leaning retro (there is a noticeable lack of horns throughout) as “Ghost In Smoke” and “Tin Man Love” both use skittering trap like drums and digital bass bumps to groove. St. Paul and the Broken Bones are constantly evolving and the fearless band goes with what inspires them, on The Alien Coast that covers a little bit of everything.