The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines

Music Reviews King Khan and the Shrines
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The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines

It’s difficult to pinpoint the smarmy but undeniable charm of The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines.

On the one hand, the hour-long album, a compendium of 16 highlights from King Khan and the Shrines’ discography, is full of upbeat garage-rock jams, from the groovy “Sweet Touch” to the swinging “Outta Harms Way.” But the album lasts way too long, especially considering how most garage-rock romps burn out after a half-hour. And King Khan, a confident, swaggering frontman, has a thin, hiccupping voice that often fails him. When he tackles “Fool Like Me,” he tries to work the ballad like Mick Jagger would have interpreted a great rhythm and blues number. But as he shouts and simmers, he overlooks the song’s emotions, and the performance comes off as insincere.

But despite his vocal shortcomings, King Khan belts out each song like a bar-band hero working overtime. He’s at his best when he’s confidently driving the Shrines, a large crew supplemented by horn players and a cheerleader (!),as they run through the triumphant '60s-era soul of “Live Fast Die Strong” and devise lowdown themes like “Destroyer” and “I Wanna Be a Girl.” With The Supreme Genius of..., King Khan seems to enjoy playing a rock 'n' roll cad, but he’s smart enough to make you wonder whether the joke’s on you.