A La Sala by Khruangbin album review by Sam Eeckhout for Northern Transmissions. The Texas trio's brand new LP is now out via Dead Oceans


A La Sala


Khruangbin's fourth studio album, A La Sala, finds the Houston trio delving deeper into their trademark sound. Sun-drenched, reverb-soaked, in-no-hurry, psychedelic, and funky – the album offers a captivating exploration of instrumental music that is as affable as it is nuanced. With its largely vocal-less compositions, Khruangbin once again proves its mastery in crafting tracks that transcend language, speaking directly to the listener's soul.

From the outset, it’s evident that A La Sala is more expansive and less direct than its predecessors. Though the largely optimistic, welcoming tunes across the album remain true, on A La Sala, the trio experiments with the occasional somber note.

As usual – the bass from Laura Lee is given equal prominence alongside the wistful guitar melodies of Mark Speer. It meanders through each track, never standing still but exploring and elevating. You have to hand it to them – for Khruangbin to work, it all has to work. There is zero margin for error. There can be no reliance on an epic solo, soaring vocal performance, or catchy chorus. The entire menu must be impeccable, and by and large, whatever meal you order – it delivers

There is a gigantic array of benevolent music in the world, but what distinguishes Khruangbin from the competition is the emotional depth subtly woven into their music, resonating with listeners subconsciously. Throughout the album, the guitarists explore separate musical paths, yet their synergy remains undeniable, creating a listening experience that is simultaneously cohesive and individualistic.

The album’s title, “To the Living Room,” suggests an invitation to experience the music in an intimate setting, shared among friends and loved ones. Indeed, A La Sala (which actually is more of a nod to Lee’s childhood of calling her family together) fosters a sense of togetherness, its infectious grooves drawing listeners in and encouraging communal enjoyment.

Tracks like “May Ninth” and “Ada Jean” showcase Khruangbin’s ability to infuse charm and optimism into their compositions, while “Pon Pón” picks up the tempo with its toe-tapping rhythm. “Juegos” presents a departure from Khruangbin’s usual expansive sound, emphasizing unity and timing over intricate layers. Meanwhile, “Hold Me Up” surprises with its playful interlude before seamlessly returning to its laid-back vibe.

One of the album’s most striking features is its sense of infinity, with each track feeling like it could go on indefinitely if not for the inevitable fade-out. Khruangbin’s meticulous attention to detail ensures that every aspect of their music, from the reverberating snare to the subtle shifts in dynamics, contributes to the overall offering.

As the penultimate track, “A Love International,” builds to a frenzied crescendo, it serves as a reminder of Khruangbin’s ability to surprise despite a consensus that they are stuck in their trademark sound. The album closes contemplatively, hinting at future explorations while reaffirming the trio’s commitment to their distinctive sound.

Ultimately, A La Sala is a welcome helping of Khruangbin’s artistic evolution and unwavering vision. While they may not reinvent themselves with each release, they continue to refine and expand upon their signature style, roping in old and new listeners. With A La Sala, Khruangbin greets us at the gates of their world, ushering us into a landscape that gently beckons like a whispering breeze, inviting exploration without imposing its will.

Order A La Sala by HERE


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