28 Jan 2023

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Troy Kingi - Album Review: The Year of the Ratbags And Their Musty Theme Songs

11 Oct 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

It is safe to say there is no other artist in New Zealand currently working at the pace of Troy Kingi. Earlier this year he released the te reo version of Holy Colony Burning Acres, Pu Whenua Hautapu, Eka Mumura, finished the tour for Black Sea Golden Ladder, and is now back with his latest album, Year of The Ratbags and Their Musty Theme Songs, while already in the studio with TeMatera Smith working on his next one. There is no time to let up for the man who is determined to release 10 albums in 10 years in 10 different genres. This is the sixth in the series, so he is now more than halfway through, and this time we have been taken firmly into the pop world of the Eighties. Troy was born in 1984, the Chinese year of the Rat, and hence the album title, and yet again he has produced an album which is not only solidly within his genre of choice but also a place where he sounds so much at home.

It is hard to connect this album with the last one, which was much more of a folk-inspired release, but how to compare it against the amazing Shake That Skinny Ass All the Way to Zygertron, or the incredible The Ghost of Freddie Cesar? Last year’s Black Sea Golden Ladder was my album of the year, while Holy Colony Burning Acres is one I still often return to.The word “genius” is one that is generally massively overplayed within the music scene, but it does appear to be the only word which fits Troy as each of his albums are superb and have resulted in multiple chart hits and award success, and each one sounds like the genre he was destined to play in, right up until the next one. I have not heard his debut album, Guitar Party At Uncle’s Bach, but I do have all the others and was once lucky enough to see Troy at work in the studio, where he has an ability to not only spot what is missing but going straight back in after a playback to add those elements with ease.

The album cover screams the 80’s over polish of pop, and this album’s band (this time called The Promises) have fitted perfectly in with the theme. It is no surprise to see bassist Marika Hodgson involved yet again, as she is surely one of the very finest bassists on the circuit and has worked with him on other albums, and here she underpins the sound, linking in with drummer Treye Liu, who has to make his drums sound electronic as that was the style back then. The keyboards of Guy Harrison are wonderfully dated, both in sound and approach, and I must also mention TeMatera at the end of Authenticity and others, as his spoken word pieces are hilarious. It is interesting to note that one of the songs is a co-write with Delaney Davidson, so I presume this was discarded from the last album as not fitting in with that theme.

There is no doubt that when the awards season comes around that Troy will be grabbing another armful, not because he is a judge’s favourite but because the songs and performance are top notch. I have the double-vinyl 45 rpm version of the album, but it is available in standard vinyl, CD, cassette (strictly limited edition) or digital download. However you like to consume your music, Troy Kingi has delivered yet another masterpiece which this time around takes its cues from the likes of Human League, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads and so many more. What will the next one bring us I wonder?

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Troy Kingi

Bay of Islands-based musician/actor Troy Kingi has embarked on an eventful few years with major acting roles in Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Pa Boys, Mt Zion and The Kick, while also enjoying a successful music career. Troy Kingi was nominated for an APRA Silver Scroll last year and earned Vodafone Music Awards for Best NZ Soul Artist and Best Maori Artist in 2018. His side project, collaborative soul band L(())VE & HOPE also received rave reviews but Troy's most recent offering is his politically charged roots/reggae record, Holy Colony Burning Acres.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Troy Kingi


Black Sea Golden Ladder
Year: 2021
Type: Album
The Ghost of Freddie Cesar
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Holy Colony Burning Acres
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Guitar Party at Uncle's Bach
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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