With Bury The Kings, Chris Lee offers eight tracks of blue-eyed soul rife with his athletic falsettos, smoky Rhodes and Wurlizter pianos, and universally relatable poetry. Following an eight-year hiatus, Lee returns with songs so relaxing they bely their diligent work in the land of lush atmospherics and clean production. The album rides almost entirely on Lee’s heartwrenching vocals, which convey lyrics like “I love the way you bring me down, you wear my heart like a crown” with an undeniable sense of honesty; like most singer-songwriters who wear their hearts on their sleeves, the words go deeper than the song for Lee.
“Antony Flew,” opens the doors to Lee’s soul roots and pipes on flagrant display through the entirety of Bury The Kings’ gentle explorations of emotions, playing off of smart chord changes and textbook uses of negative space. Lee sounds as if he studied from the same notebook as Adam Levine, but decided ballads and poetry were more his speed than The Voice and Overexposed. Still, this record belongs on the counter of your neighborhood Starbucks, and your parents will definitely want to bang to it.
The record’s sparse arrangements never sound small, which might be attributed to Lee’s longtime collaborator, Steve Shelley–also known as the man behind the Smells Like Records label, Sonic Youth’s drummer, and the provider of percussion on Bury The Kings as well. Shelley’s work as both a drummer and producer is long and varied, and his sensibilities as the anchor holding down Sonic Youth’s experimental maelstrom with an “only what’s necessary” attitude appears to have found its way into Lee’s work. But the warmth of the songs themselves outshine the production and in this, Lee has succeeded.
Bury The Kings is everything you could want for easy listening, and these songs are just as at home providing the soundtrack to films as they would be warming the sonic air of a lazy afternoon indoors.
Essential Tracks: “Antony Flew”, “(I Love the Way) You Bring Me Down”, “Sadie”, “Culloden”