Trying to pin down Khruangbin is a fool’s errand.
The Houston-based trio defies genre classification, and has throughout its career to date. Mordechai, the band’s new album released on Friday via Dead Oceans, is very much in line with 2015’s The Universe Smiles Upon You and 2018’s Con Todo El Mundo, but with a twist: Most of the songs on Mordechai feature vocals, which is something relatively fresh for the group (which was just announced as an act on the bill for the 2021 Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival this week).
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As we head into ‘Mordechai’ release day tomorrow, we wanted to share a message of gratitude for @khruangbin, for their presence in our lives as people and for the music they make. The record is AMAZING and we hope it brings lots of joy and dancing. Big love to all the Khru out there, near and far. 💓💓💓 Photo by @andrewcotterill
But make no mistake, this is very much a fully immersive, groove-based instrumental album, with the vocals that do make up many of the LP’s songs serving as an additional instrument, more so than vocals layered on top of the music. It all blends together to a globally-inspired brew of sounds, styles and rhythms that never ceases to be astonishing in depth and vibe.
Take “Pelota” for an example of Laura Lee (bass/vocals), Mark Speer (guitar/vocals) and Donald Johnson (Drums/keys/vocals) fully hitting their stride on this record:
Khruangbin’s name itself exemplifies the musical journey the group has been on since adopting the moniker, which translates to “engine fly” or “aeroplane” in Thai:
“It symbolises the international set of influences that shaped our music,” said the band per the Guardian in a 2015 profile.
Khruangbin’s journey is very much one of unique spirit and worldly influence, and it’s a trip you’ll want to partake again and again. Stream Mordechai below, via Spotify: