This is a wordy, but oh so fitting, moniker for Shayne O’Neill’s music, as The Future Kings of Nowhere perfectly captures the insouciant grandness he aspires to, with the self- deprecating twist that is the secret to his success. Actually, the secret to his success is summed up best on “I’m Still Waiting”: “Take my quick observations and my questions and my poor explanations and wrap them up into rhymes. Weave them around my mouth, suffer me up into brilliance, until no-one doesn’t know my name.”
With a sharp eye for mundane details, a wry wit, and an occasional ironic twist, the Future King and his cortege of guesting alterno-royalty, take a royal trip around O’Neill’s rag- tag inner realm. Along the way there’s amends to make, specifically on “Paper Napkins”, an apology to the ex- girlfriend who’s been the foil of the singer’s many break-up songs. Perhaps “Never” describes their relationship, “Like a Staring Contest” their “trainwreck of an ending,” but surely not the girl who did a runner and addressed in a folksy letter from home on “C Is for Heartache”.
There again, when you entangle yourself with women with a history of “high speed chase, no dialogue,” as O’Neill does on “I Want You”, it’s no wonder problematic relationships make up the bulk of this set. But not exclusively, there’s the poignant “Emily”, a despondent song revolving around the despair of depression, and the bristling “Later, Rinse, Repeat”, where economic devastation wrecks havoc on middle-class pretensions. Then there’s the savage “10 Simple Murders”, that coolly permits the killer to rationalize his crimes, an Anglo retort to the popular Mexican corridos.
It’s easy to fall under the spell of O’Neill’s seductive pen, with his vivid imagery and effortless rhymes. His melodies are equally enchanting, and the arrangements superb, as The Kings weave a sublime tapestry from Americana, melodic punk, and southern pop-rock. The use of brass is particularly impressive, rocking out here, adding atmosphere there, with O’Neill’s piano often adding a genre twist to his song. A fabulous album, but O’Neill may come to rue his noble name, for surely he’s destined for more greatness than nowhere can supply.
- Jo-Anne Green, allmusic