The University of Oklahoma music department proved to be the intersection of a stellar symphonic-pop record.
Good King Friday is the product of a collaboration between OU music professor Christina Giacona, some childhood friends in Los Angeles, former OU students Patrick Conlon and Audrey Snyder (hailing from Canada and Chicago, respectively) and lyricist Matt Kolbet, the brother-in-law of bassist Nathan Caswell.
It’s remarkable that an album by such a far-spread ensemble got recorded at all, let alone one of such spectacular progressive classical breadth as “Good King Friday” spans.
Standout tracks like “Breakdown” chug along at an up-tempo pace before arching impossibly high on an echoing, jagged violin solo, propelled by Chris Wakelin’s hard-charging drums. The song eventually comes to a close with scattered cymbals, each instrument pulling away until just the cello’s left. It’s an example of the masterfully subtle construction found on each track.
Clarinets suggest pastoral beauty in “Carousel”; “The Hours” and “Burning Down” waltz along at a calmer pace, and “Who Knows if the Moon’s Not a Balloon” takes a dramatic turn from childish whimsy.
Ditch the classical-influenced rock of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and go for the good men and women of Good King Friday — they’ve got the real thing. —Matt Carney